Friday, July 31, 2020

Worth Searching For, Chapter 8

For the rest of the day, Hyren drifted in and out of sleep, vaguely cognisant of Anshu treating his wounds and the Ruki doctor having conversations with Blynn, who seemed to be less injured. At some point, when golden light shone through the room’s porthole, Hyren was awoken and given a bowl of rice porridge with peanuts and scallions. He gulped it down, surprised that he could move his arms without too much pain now. Once he was full, he lay back on his pillows and sleep came quickly again.

Hyren just let himself rest. Doing anything else hurt too much. Unfortunately, this also meant he was stuck with his own thoughts. More specifically, his own worries. There were countless dangers Terra and Pharazon could be in right now. He had saved her before, but that was when he was bigger and stronger. What if he couldn’t do it again this time?

He felt so powerless compared to whatever had taken them away. Especially since his search had gotten off to such a terrible start. Blynn seemed to think it was a good omen that they were still headed for the Meridell region, but all Hyren could get out of it was that he’d made a stupid mistake and it could very well set the tone for the rest of this rescue attempt. He had to call it an “attempt” now, because he was tired of deluding himself that it was failproof. The storm had shown him otherwise.

“Rise and shine, chief!” Blynn’s annoyingly perky voice cut through Hyren’s sleep.

He opened his eyes and got an eyeful of disco Zafara face. “Gah!” he shouted, and Blynn leaned back and giggled. “Don’t do that,” he grumbled, shooing her away. It took him a moment to register that he was in considerably less pain than he remembered.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Pixeldust is entered in the Kindle Storyteller contest! (Note that it didn't do anything special to get nominated; the contest is open to any qualifying book published on Amazon Kindle between certain dates.) Anyway, entries will be selected for a judges' shortlist based on customer feedback such as purchases and reviews. If you liked Pixeldust, would you consider leaving a review saying what you liked about it? And recommend it to your nerd friends?

Also, just some quick updates on other projects: I have an outline written down for Earthkeepers, and it's looking super fun, but I just got hired to illustrated a couple of children's picture books, so that will be my priority for the foreseeable future. I'll be sure to post when the books are published, though! But, I will probably also need a bit of a break from doing anything whatsoever once I finish those picture books. Work is fun. But it's also work. And it's exhausting. (Also I want to finish Paper Mario: The Origami King super bad.)

And yes, I know I left Worth Searching For on another cliffhanger, but additional chapters will have to wait until I have a bit of spare time. You can either be patient or read the awful old Neopian Times version. I'm not even going to tell you which issues it's in. You'll have to find them yourself. I apologize for any cringefests. (Also, most of the chapters in this story end in cliffhangers. I really tried to keep readers on the edges of their seats and I hope I succeeded.)

Friday, July 24, 2020

Worth Searching For, Chapter 7


Terra’s breath caught in her throat and she stumbled back, bumping into the paws of another Werelupe who nudged her back toward their ruler.

The Werelupe King laughed, as did his entourage. “Now, is that any way to greet me?” he asked. He hoisted her up by the shoulders and stood her on her feet, but when he let go, she was so tired and stiff that she collapsed back to the ground. “Had a long trip, did you?”

Terra glanced around. They were surrounded by a legion of Werelupes wearing skins and furs, accessorised with jewellry fashioned from bones and fangs. Firelight reflected in their glowing eyes. Just like last time. Her heart slammed against her chest.

Not giving Terra any time to reply, their king knelt down, sniffing her and poking her face with his wet nose. “Yes, yes, it’s you all right,” he said. He pulled back and inspected her again, tilting his head as his ears perked forward. “You look different. Taller.”

“I grew up,” Terra said.

The Werelupe’s brow furrowed. “Yes, I suppose you were just a child back then,” he said.

“I was fourteen,” Terra said. The knot in her stomach grew.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Pixeldust is OUT in both paperback and Kindle editions!

If you like nerdy science fantasy, please consider adding it to your list of summer reads! My editor says it's her favorite of my books so far, so I must be doing something right!

I'm a workaholic, so let's talk about what's next! I'm still putting chapters of Worth Searching For up on the blog as my schedule permits. I've been pretty busy hanging out with my niece. (She loves stargazing. I'm so psyched to get to share astronomy with somebody! We still haven't been able to see the comet, though. Good old big city light pollution.)

The novel I want to work on next is... the (long-awaited?) sequel to Skydwellers! I don't want to give away too much yet, but here's some teaser info:
  • It takes place six years after the events of Skydwellers.
  • Kieri and Miette, now teenagers, are the main characters, along with Fraa and Fraa's young nephew.
  • The tentative title is Earthkeepers, and the plot deals with discovering (more of) the ancient secrets behind the way the world of the books works, including the origins of the aether itself... however, there may be those who wish to use those secrets to selfishly gain power and control.
  • The antagonists will not be the Faemor, but a new group with connections to Miette; they tie in to one of the main themes of the plot, which is a discussion on how one's gifts and talents are used, and whether or not anyone else has any say in the matter.
  • I was partly inspired by my research into mathematical theory. Not to say the book will be over people's heads, just that I was sitting there reading about math, and wanted to write a book about mathematically-minded people and a battle between minds of a different nature than the one portrayed in Skydwellers.
I hope all of that sounds at least remotely interesting! I'm not sure when I'll start working on it, but I should probably make myself take a break from novel writing for at least a little while.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

I've been meaning to get better with Corel Painter, so now that I've finished Pixeldust, I've finally had the time to sit and follow along with some Painter tutorials! I love all the stuff that program can do, and I need to keep learning how to bring out its full potential for my illustrations!

Today I was working on painting, so here's one of the teleportation crystals from Heroes of Avonell! They play an important role in the plot as the characters use them to quickly go from one area of the game to the next. Because I couldn't let the plot get bogged down by unbearably long travel times. (Of course, there are restrictions; you can only teleport to places your character has already been, and you can't teleport in the middle of a battle.)

This was an exercise in using the color blender tool in Painter; I've found it's a really great resource for when you're painting and need one color to transition into another, but don't have the color theory mastery to know what that should look like (such as the blue highlights here).

I'm looking forward to continuing to up my Painter game, and if I like the way any of my future doodles turn out, I'll share them here!

I'm also super excited to have the time to post more chapters of Worth Searching For! I actually did a rather substantial revision a little later in the story where I gave Isengrim a whole conversation that was not in previous versions, because I really felt I needed to explain more of his personality and give the reader a glimpse into what's going on inside his head. Hopefully it works well with the rest of the plot. I've had problems in the past with under-explaining things, but I also hate over-explaining things, so I'm hoping I've struck a good balance here.

Worth Searching For, Chapter 6

It turned out Terra was right. It was a long trip. And service was lousy.

She and Pharazon were left alone in the dark for what felt like hours. Sometimes she could ignore the discomfort enough to sleep, and sometimes she would offer Pharazon a few words of consolation and cheer, but he rarely replied with more than one syllable and she began to really worry about him.

She didn’t know what to say to make him feel better, especially because they were hungry and thirsty. Terra retreated into her thoughts, finding her happy place on the white-sand beaches of Altador. There wasn’t much else she could do to pass the time. Blynn and Hyren kept sneaking into her daydreams, Blynn skipping rocks on the waves while Hyren taught Terra swordplay on the sand.

But those flights of fancy didn’t last long, because Terra’s thoughts kept turning back to why she and Pharazon were in this predicament. Thanks to his utter unhelpfulness, though, there wasn’t anything more she could do to investigate for the time being. So she would have to dig in her heels and wait out the voyage.

At some point, the relic Nimmo came back in with a bowl of vinegared rice and a flask of water. She fed them by hand, simply stuffing their mouths full of rice until they began to gag, laughing as they coughed grains back onto the floor. She was no gentler with the water.

“Okay, I hope that’s the only in-flight meal we get,” Terra muttered once the pirate had left.

Pharazon simply sighed in response.

“Perk up, buddy,” Terra said. “I know my optimism is obnoxious, but you’re going to worry yourself sick.”

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Worth Searching For, Chapter 5

“Hyren, we have to land!” Blynn shouted over a crash of thunder.

“No! The storm will break soon!” Hyren yelled back, spitting out the water that spattered into his mouth every time he opened it.

“That’s what you said an hour ago!” Blynn said.

A fork of lightning rent the sky, alarmingly close to the Ganuthor and her two riders. It illuminated an infinite sea of tortured black clouds, twisted into anguished shapes by the relentless wind. Diffuse spots of lightning bloomed and faded around them.

Hyren wasn’t even sure which way was up anymore as he pulled his cloak tighter around his shoulders. Not that that would do anything, since it was just as soaking wet as the rest of him. The storm seemed to drain the colour from even Blynn’s bright disco fur, and rain matted it against her body.

But they had to press on. His family needed him.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Worth Searching For, Chapter 4

It was dark—that was the first thing Terra noticed. Dark and stuffy. But she was breathing. That was a good sign.

Something heavy and scratchy was covering her face. She aimed a sharp breath out of pursed lips to try to blow it away, but after a moment it simply settled back on her nose and chin.

That was when her heart started to race, because she did not like things covering her face. Her next thought was to push it away with her hand, but she quickly realised her wrists had been bound. With rope. Really rough rope. She was currently trapped in Uncomfortable Claustrophobia Land.

She was not okay with this.

Friday, July 10, 2020

I finished the cover for Pixeldust! And I did so ahead of my proofreader!

You know, I opted for a graphic-novel-style cover thinking it would be easier... in some ways it was, in some ways it wasn't. I am honestly not a painter by nature, so working with line art was definitely more my speed and I felt more comfortable doing this cover than the previous painting-style covers. On the other hand, boy was it complicated! But I think the results are worth it!

Pixeldust is really close to publishing now! I just have to wait for my proofreader, and that means that there is literally nothing else I can do to work on this novel so I have to make myself take a break.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Sooooo I like to challenge myself to do impossible things and then do them. Somehow, saying that I wasn't going to work on the cover art until my proofreader finished the manuscript made me more eager to work on it????? I don't understand myself sometimes.

Nevertheless here is the line art! (I may make a few tweaks to it tomorrow, but I am exhausted and had to call it a day. Trying to finish a novel before a deadline while living with a toddler is not for the faint of heart.) (Also ignore the gray border; that is not part of the final art, just left over from when I screencapped from Corel Painter because that's easier and faster than saving the entire image file as a JPG.) (Okay, I don't know if it's necessarily easier and faster, but whenever I save something as a JPG and then keep working on it, I always accidentally continue working on the JPG file instead of the TIFF and it messes things up.)

So yes, this is Quinny in Caed Dhraos, the most interesting and non-cliche map in Heroes of Avonell, and home to a lovable band of quirky misfit "villains". And also some dangerous secrets that I am not going to reveal right now, muahahaha. You'll have to read the book to find out what kind of craziness Quinny gets herself into!

Friday, July 3, 2020

I finished my revisions to Pixeldust and sent it to my proofreader! The proofreading process won't take as long as the story editing, but I still may post a chapter or two of Worth Searching For while I'm waiting, because I'm a workaholic like that. I feel like I've been working at an insane pace lately even for myself, but I'd really love to enter Pixeldust in Amazon's Kindle Storyteller contest, which is open to all books newly published within a certain date range. The deadline is the end of August, so I'm like internally screaming as I try to make sure I'm well within that deadline while also paying close attention to quality.

The good news is, after my proofreader gets back to me, the last things I need to do are the cover art and formatting the ebook and print editions, so things should move fairly quickly now. I'd work on the cover art while the manuscript is getting proofread... but even I need a break every now and again, and if I didn't make myself stop working at points, I'd probably short-circuit or something. Also my niece is in town and I want to hang out with her because she's hilarious. (She and her cousin were the inspiration for Maria Elena's and Balt's nephew in the book.)

I hope people enjoy Pixeldust! It is full of nerdy humor, gaming inside jokes, autocorrect fails, a grouchy minotaur, a wisecracking literal cat burglar, and tamales for Christmas.