Thursday, December 24, 2020
Tuesday, December 22, 2020
Saturday, December 19, 2020
Tuesday, December 15, 2020
This is one of the main characters, Apparat Drone Model 473 Alloy, a.k.a. "Zuben". He's a friendly, energetic little fellow who enjoys perching on shoulders and exploring the world around him. Miette and her friends found him lying defunct in a secret passageway, and Yonwin restored him to working condition.
But why does Zuben have the same name as the Graling folk hero Zuben Elgenubi? And where does he come from? The answers will change Miette's world forever.
I'm not super great at mechanical design, but I actually got Zuben's design from a dream I had once about this little arthropod creature. When I started brainstorming about Earthkeepers and Zuben, I just couldn't picture him with anything but that creature's design in mechanical form. I use arthropods for mechanical design inspiration a lot because their exoskeletons remind me of metal plating. :)
Those red feather things are aether collecting vanes. Zuben uses them to collect aether from charging streams, as he and the other Apparats run on aether.
Also he speaks Old Gralish, an ancient form of the Graling language, which is represented in the book by Shakespearian English. When the idea first popped into my head, I wasn't sure how well it would work, but as I kept writing it, I liked it more and more. :)
I'm working on some revisions to the manuscript, and I hope to have it ready to send to the editor by the end of the week!
Monday, December 14, 2020
Friday, December 4, 2020
I'm very happy and excited to announce that Thunder Girl is getting an audiobook adaptation!
I'm partnering with audiobook narrator Benjamin Fife to make the quirky, paleontology-laced alternate history world of Thunder Girl come to life!
I'm so thrilled to have Benjamin on board, as he actually knows how to do accents and I do not, except when I'm pretending to be British which is more often than I should admit. (Mostly when I'm talking to the TV while watching back episodes of The Sky at Night.) Other authors praise his work, I myself like his work, and he just seems like a great person who likes to help the indie authors he partners with.
I'm looking forward to working with him, and I hope this is just the first of many adaptations we can produce to help bring my work to a new audience.
Tentatively we are looking at a release date of sometime in Q2 2021. I will keep you guys updated!
Thursday, December 3, 2020
Saturday, November 21, 2020
NaNoWriMo update... kinda!
More accurately, I'm not doing it anymore! And you know what, I'm happy about that!
I'm going through a lot right now, and really the last thing I needed was to put even more pressure on myself doing something that takes a lot of work and stress even in a good month. I thought I could get away with being a workaholic, but today my health said otherwise, so I said "Okay, health, I'm sorry, let's sit and binge-watch The Sky at Night instead."
In all seriousness, please, nobody else push yourself too hard like that. Listen to your body's stress signals. 50,000 words in a month is not worth a health breakdown.
I will put all my cards on the table here--I actually have not been a big fan of NaNoWriMo. I know plenty of people love it, and I'm happy for them, but for me it's just too much pressure. I only did it two other times in my life. Once was in college because someone I knew wouldn't leave me alone about it. That is a very bad reason to do anything, FYI. That was an extremely stressful month of my life, because NaNo + college = NO. I am really surprised I made it through that month without any health issues, but I was young and thought I was invincible.
The second time I did a NaNo was actually in July (a JulNo), and while it was still a lot of hard work, I didn't really have anything going on that month so it wasn't as stressful.
But this time around, no. Just no. Triple no. Putting another very stressful thing on my plate when I was already stressed out was stupid.
So I'm writing this blog post not only as a cautionary tale to you, good readers, but also to reassure myself that I will never do another NaNo as long as I live pinky promise. I love writing. It doesn't have to be stressful. I don't need to put pressure on myself or be even more of a workaholic than I already am.
From now on, I work at my own pace. And I take care of myself.
Anyhow, don't worry, I am definitely going to keep working on the manuscript for Earthkeepers--when I feel up to it again! It's at 38,000 words right now and it's starting to get really exciting! You can take a look at my Facebook page for daily updates and teasers about where I am in the plot!
Take care, everybody! Take a load off and give yourself plenty of TLC! You deserve it!
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
Wednesday, November 11, 2020
Just wanted to drop an update since it's been a while; I've just been so busy writing Earthkeepers! I want to meet my NaNoWriMo goal, so that means lots and lots of writing! Plus, y'know, life in general has kept me pretty busy.
I'm super excited to share Earthkeepers with everybody! I'm about 20,000 words in right now, and I'm just about to get to the critical plot twist. The characters have been super fun to write, from Miette's high-strung brilliancy to Yonwin's awkward teenage adorableness to Eltas's weird paranoid hippie ways. Revisiting these characters and this world, and developing new characters and world concepts, has been greatly enjoyable. I hope fans of Skydwellers will enjoy this new adventure featuring some of the best (in my opinion) characters from the first book.
I don't have much more to report than that, so I hope everybody has a lovely holiday season! Remember, things might be different this year, but there's always something to be grateful for and ways to enjoy the holidays! Take care!
Tuesday, November 3, 2020
True to Isengrim’s word, they feasted on the array of foods in his larder, and once the rest of the pack arrived it became a veritable festival. Werelupes sang newly-composed lays celebrating their clan’s valour in battle and the heroics of their king, his adoptive family, and Celice in saving the Werelupes’ home. Pharazon was given especial credit for defeating the treacherous Skoll, and the pack lauded his courage and strength.
Blynn, Hyren, and the Lupe sorceress were guests of honour, and Blynn and Hyren got to stay in Isengrim’s grotto, where the family laughed and chatted for what felt like hours every night before getting to sleep. For his part, Hyren never would have thought that sleeping on furs in a cave would be so comfy.
The snow did indeed turn into a blizzard, and they ended up staying for a fortnight, taking the time to rest and recuperate after all that had happened. Isengrim was a gracious host, and an enthusiastic sparring partner besides. Hardly a day went by that he and Hyren did not end up clashing blades—good-naturedly, this time around.
Monday, November 2, 2020
An air mage who had a little energy left over from the casting that morning was kind enough to bestow a spell of swiftness on Gwyneth, and the group soon sped through the sky, the mountains fast approaching. The clouds were black and heavy with snow waiting to fall.
Looking down, Hyren watched the Werelupes returning to Brightvale, followed by the kingdom’s army. Meridell’s forces branched off to the south, most likely taking a farther pass back to their homeland, and the Darigan airborne escorted them overhead. It was strange, he thought, how little difference there really could be between enemy and ally—and how easy it could be to switch statuses. Just like what had happened with Isengrim.
No one said much on the trip, focused as they were on what lay ahead. Isengrim clung fiercely to Terra as though just the very act of holding on to her would somehow keep the curse from worsening. Hyren’s stomach seemed to want to see how many different knots it could tie itself into.
Below them, the phantoms continued to retreat into the hills like water getting sucked down a drain. Hyren could see their glow beneath the treetops as they flowed up ridges and down through ravines. Even with the spell, Gwyneth could not quite catch up with them, and trailed them all the way back to the Werelupe Graveyard.
The cemetery was a ruin of its former self. The trees, tombstones, and mausoleums had all been blasted away, leaving a stark crater in the middle of a debris-tangled forest. Thick clouds bunched overhead, crackling with green lightning. The air was so thick with a twisted, malevolent kind of magic that it made Hyren’s skin prickle and his companions’ fur stand on end.
Saturday, October 31, 2020
Here's a nice, pleasant, only slightly unsettling ghost story for your reading enjoyment. Because that's how I roll.
Kate was lost in the woods.
On Halloween night.
And her cell phone wasn’t getting any reception.
“I’m a moron,” she grumbled as she slumped against an enormous old tree, rubbing her arms to try to keep warm in the growing chill. Her long blonde hair blew in and out of her face in the night wind. While one side of the tree was tall and weighed down with golden leaves, the other was barren and scorched, as though it had been struck by lightning long ago and never fully recovered.
Taking a hayride through the infamous Sleepy Hollow with some other kids from her high school sounded like a fun idea on paper. What she forgot to account for was the “other kids” part. Kate had wanted to spend the evening enjoying the seasonal rapture of autumn in rural New York – with the added fun of a bit of spooky history - but what she got instead was an earful of gossip and awkward public displays of affection by dating couples. A few guys from the football team had come along, and were obnoxiously full of themselves as always.
And then the ghost stories started. Kate knew this was Halloween and all, but it turned out teenagers became sociopaths when telling ghost stories. It rapidly devolved into a competition to see who could come up with the most macabre tales, and it was as if everyone had simultaneously decided to show their darkest sides and revel in them.
At that point Kate couldn’t take it anymore. When the wagon slowed a bit to navigate a particularly bumpy patch, she slipped over the side and let it trundle on without her. She was pretty sure she could find the way back if she just returned the direction they had come from.
Well, that was half an hour ago and she hadn’t so much as seen a light from a building. And she was getting colder by the minute.
“So this is how I die,” she muttered. “Great. One more ghost to haunt Sleepy Hollow.”
Or she could at least keep moving. Kate pushed away from the old tree and forced her stiff legs to walk. Her cell phone’s light kept her from stumbling over rocks and roots as she scanned the wet ground ahead of her.
Suddenly something new showed up in the pale LED glow—a pair of hooves.
Thursday, October 29, 2020
A Wocky lurched forward with a morning star and swept it toward Hyren. The Grundo moved to block, but his straining muscles just couldn’t move his sword in time. Hyren cringed and waited for the blow to land.
Before the chunk of spiky metal reached him, something white and sparking streaked down from the sky and caught the Wocky up in its enormous jaws. It was an oversized Biyako made of fireworks, and the feline Petpet shook the phantom soldier like a toy before tossing it away to dissolve into the green miasma. Seemingly satisfied, the Biyako tore through the ranks, leaving mayhem and mist in its wake.
Hyren looked to the sky. “Blynn?!” he shouted.
Wednesday, October 28, 2020
Their march took them off the main Brightvale-Meridell road and into the rolling countryside that stretched in front of the mountains. Feitz explained that the Sweetwater Fields, a wide swath of moorland where shepherds brought their Babaas and Zebies to graze, were so named because the Sweetwater River bisected the plains on its way to the sea.
Said river was not particularly wide or deep at the point where the army forded it. There was a bridge some miles downriver, but the Pteri scouts reported that the phantoms were closing in fast. The army wouldn’t have the time for such a circuitous route.
Hyren clutched the saddlehorn as deep green water swirled around Feitz’s thick fetlocks and rose to the Uni’s knees. The water looked frigid and wholly unpleasant and Hyren wasn’t going to touch it if he could help himself. He was already sore from riding—he didn’t need to be wet and cold on top of that while fighting.
At least the clouds weren’t thick enough for snow. No, they were content to just cover the sun to make sure the day looked as ominous as it was supposed to. It simply wouldn’t do, Hyren thought, to fight a mad wizard’s spectral army on a beautiful sunny morning. Completely incongruous.
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
That night, the Werelupes practically threw a party in the castle courtyard. The pack had set up furs and fires and spent the night preparing for war. They bayed and laughed and sung rhythmic chants about combat and victory as they sharpened their weapons, checked their armour, and feasted on the food they had brought from the Burrows.
Hyren stayed in the infirmary with Terra and Blynn, and the sound of the Werelupes’ activity outside faintly filtered past the stone walls and stained glass. But that wasn’t why Hyren was having trouble getting to sleep.
Blynn had barely eaten anything that day and she remained largely unresponsive. Terra was beginning to look… dirty, for lack of a better word. She literally appeared as though she’d been exhumed from the ground, covered in a strange loamy patina. To Hyren it seemed like the earth was slowly trying to reclaim her where she lay.
The blankets and pillows that Arsinoe provided Hyren were comfy enough, but they couldn’t ease the knots in his gut. Tomorrow he had to prove himself on the field of battle again. Sure, there were the skirmishes at the Tyrannian Obelisk the previous year, and many wars before that, but this time the life of his owner hung in the balance. And he had to trust in the allegiance of a faction that had been his enemies up until yesterday. He’d like to see anyone sleep well in a situation like this.
Monday, October 26, 2020
The Werelupes arrived at dusk.
Hyren, Blynn, and Isengrim were in the middle of dinner when a Weewoo arrived with a scroll from Suhel announcing that the pack was nearing the gates of the castle town. Clearance had already been given for them to enter. Isengrim wrote back to proceed to the castle and he would meet them there.
He, his knight escorts, and Hyren watched for them atop the castle gatehouse. Hyren had been unable to tear Celice away from helping Seradar and the other mages devise an enchantment to counter the phantom army’s incorporeality. And Blynn refused to leave Terra’s side. But Hyren and the knights had developed a good rapport, and Isengrim did not seem interested in being antagonistic, although he had not really said anything to Hyren since their failed conversation in the armoury. Hyren had little else to do for the time being. He was not one for moping.
The once-lively town now looked abandoned. Many civilians had evacuated to Neopia Central to the north, or smaller communities further west. Those who stayed barricaded themselves inside their homes. The cobbled streets were empty, windows and doors had been boarded up, and marketplace stalls were barren of food and wares.
So there was no one around to see the Werelupes come in.
Friday, October 23, 2020
One deep and dreamless sleep later, Hyren was awakened by Celice shaking his shoulder and holding a platter of eggs and sausage under his face. “Thanks,” the Grundo croaked, taking the plate and spooning egg into his mouth. He felt adequately rested physically, although his mind was still in a fog from everything that had happened.
Blynn sat with her long feet dangling over the side of the bed, poking at her food listlessly. Isengrim, meanwhile, tilted his platter and devoured the entire thing in one bite, making ungainly snarfling and snapping sounds as the food disappeared down his maw. He licked the plate clean and licked egg yolk from his whiskers, then sat back against the wall. He hadn’t moved from his spot at the side of Terra’s bed.
“I don’t suppose you have any more,” the Werelupe said to Celice.
The white Lupe cut a prim slice from her own eggs and said, “If I go back to the kitchens and ask for enough to satiate you, they’ll suspect I’m harbouring the Turmaculus in here.”
Thursday, October 22, 2020
They flew through the rest of the night, following the setting moon, retreating from the phantasmal glow-storm that hovered above the Werelupe Woods. Hyren realised that he must have ended up dozing off against Celice’s back, because the next thing he knew, she was shaking him to wake up.
“We’re almost there,” she said, using her elbow to nudge him back upright.
“Good morning to you, too,” Hyren said. His antennae were numb from the frigid air, but being seated between two warm-blooded Lupes seemed to have kept him warm enough through the night. The sky ahead was blue-grey, but the clouds behind them glowed pink with impending sunshine. Brightvale Castle and its surrounding city lay still in the twilight, not yet ready to fully wake. Even the castle’s banners hung motionless for want of breeze.
Isengrim sat stone-still behind him, holding Terra with a silent vigil. The Werelupe’s crimson eyes burned and Hyren could only imagine what thoughts were buzzing beneath them. Isengrim had been betrayed, his home invaded, his pack forced to flee their keep yet again, and now his owner was suffering from the effects of taking a curse for him. It hadn’t really been a pleasant night for anyone involved.
Wednesday, October 21, 2020
Hyren felt like he’d been punched in the gut. “No!” he choked. Starting forward, he drew his sword, with Terra and Isengrim close on his heels.
Skoll thrust out his paw and an invisible force flung them back. Isengrim caught both Terra and Hyren, and the Grundo quickly jumped back to his feet. “Pharazon!” he yelled. “Hold on—I’m coming!” He, Terra, and Isengrim rushed the Draik, but were thrown back again.
Pharazon yelped and flapped his wings to right himself, but globs of green shot out of the hole and latched onto him, pulling him down. The humming grew more intense until Hyren’s sword felt ready to vibrate out of his hand, like whatever was in that pit was hungry for a long-awaited meal.
The Draik struggled against the spectral mass but it clung to him like tar. “Skoll—you said you’d never sacrifice anyone here!” he gasped.
Skoll grinned wickedly and said, “I lied.”
Readers, as a grateful and joyful Christian, I want you to know that I know, through personal experience and countless uncanny answers to prayer, that God is real. He loves all of us. He has a plan for us as individuals and as a human family. And I have certainly seen His guiding hand throughout everything that has gone on in the past year.
This address from my church's latest conference perfectly encapsulates how I feel. I hope that reading it will bring comfort and encouragement to you as well.
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Welcome to the new layout!
I decided I wanted to use this blog as my general author website, which necessitated a few changes. Please tell me what you think!
Not much to report other than that, except that I am going to try to use NaNoWriMo for Earthkeepers, so that should be fun! I have been really wanting to get cracking on that manuscript, but life has kept me so busy. It'll be really nice to get 50,000 words out of the way in a month! I'll post daily word count updates on my Facebook page, so follow me for some NaNo fun!
Also my niece is still terrifying, so there's that.
Hyren thrust out his sword, but it was batted aside by an enormous dark paw whose claws grazed the metal, throwing up sparks. An immense weight flung him to the ground and pinned him there. As Hyren caught his breath and brought up his blade, it was caught in the teeth of a scimitar.
Past it, glaring down at him, was an all-too-familiar Werelupe wearing a crown of bone. “You will regret your intrusion, treasure seeker,” the Werelupe King growled, his fur bristled and muzzle scrunched in sheer aggression.
Monday, October 19, 2020
Roberta’s directions proved to be far more helpful than she’d predicted. Hyren, Blynn, Celice, and Gwyneth found the turnoff easily, and by nightfall they’d begun to make their way up into the wooded mountains. Between the Ganuthor’s fur, their woollen cloaks, and a warming enchantment courtesy of Celice, no one was cold that chilly night. Even so, Hyren couldn’t help but be envious of Neopets with fur.
The next morning dawned clear and crisp. Most of the rain clouds from the past few days had moved on, leaving high wisps of white in the pale sky that foretold an impending frost. The days were getting colder and it might very likely snow if it clouded over again.
So much for an early spring, Hyren thought with dismay as he ate his breakfast of cheese toast. At least Celice was handy with her fire spells.
Tuesday, October 13, 2020
As Isengrim carried Terra through the tunnels to the commons cavern for dinner, a tremendously mouth-watering smell began to fill her nose. It was savoury and hearty, and although she couldn’t quite place it, it made her even hungrier than she already was.
She and Isengrim had returned from Caxton Bank earlier that night, along with a team of Werelupes who had brought back everything from Isengrim’s “hunt” that the villagers could not use. The Werelupes had appropriated the Monocerous skeleton for themselves, as they could eat the marrow and would use the bones for decoration, jewelry, and toolmaking. They also, unsurprisingly, enjoyed merely gnawing on the bones.
Since Isengrim was wounded and could not take a very active part in things himself, and had a wounded owner to tend to, he spent the trip back giving her a tour of the woods. He showed her how the trees were beginning to bud, pointed out a family of Albats sleeping in the hollow of a tremendous old yew, and found some wild peppermint for her to taste.
Now they were back at the Burrows, and it seemed like tonight’s dinner was shaping up to be something different. As Terra began to hear the talking and laughing of Werelupes, Isengrim shifted her to one arm and covered her eyes with his paw.
Monday, October 12, 2020
“Skoll, where are we going?” Pharazon asked as he trudged down the steep-sided forest path after his Werelupe mentor. Even filtered through a thick layer of clouds, the setting sun’s light hurt the faerie Draik’s eyes at first, a side effect of living underground. It was only a few days, but it already felt like an eternity to him.
“Somewhere special, my boy,” Skoll said. “I think you’ve earned a break from your studies.”
Terra and Isengrim had been absent still at breakfast, but Suhel received a Weewoo from Isengrim, asking for a number of available Werelupes to meet him in Caxton Bank to help the two get back to the Burrows. Pharazon hoped that meant his owner would return soon. Even though they were not on the best of terms right now, he still felt better having her around. And he wanted to show her how strong he had become.
Saturday, October 10, 2020
Update time! Again I apologize that new chapters of Worth Searching For have been coming in fits and starts. I have been really wrapped up in this children's book project. However, today I sent off the finished pages to my client, which means the bulk of the work is done! Depending on how long she takes to get back to me, and if there are any alterations she wants me to make, I may have some time next week to post new chapters of WSF.
And after I've finished posting all of it, I'll get started on Earthkeepers! It feels like it's taking forever to get to this novel, but honestly I've just been so busy with other things. I don't want to start the manuscript yet because I don't like feeling like I have a lot on my plate, and I especially don't like having several unfinished projects going at once. So by waiting until I feel like I've freed up an adequate amount of time to dedicate to the manuscript, I'm reducing my stress levels, and I'm sure that will help me work more efficiently than if I tried to cram it in to my already crammed-full schedule right now.
So that's about all to report as far as creative work goes. My niece is still staying with me and is still hilarious. She's two and a half now. They call it the Terrible Twos... in her case it's more like the Terrifying Twos. She's super smart and can easily outwit us adults. But that also makes her extremely funny and she says some really cute things. She loves cats, so we were looking up information on Sphynx cats. She calls them "wrinkler cats" because they're wrinkly.
Take care, everybody!