Friday, April 30, 2021

Figured an update was due... I've started working on the first draft of Blue Diver! So far it's so incredibly super fun, and I'm enjoying it every bit as much as I hoped I would. Which is really my permanent writing goal after the health-crisis debacle that was NaNoWriMo 2020. Never again.

From now on, no pressure. No deadlines. No needing to write a certain amount in a day in order to feel productive. I'm just going to write when I want, and let myself have the time to rest that I need.

And lest you think this is turning me into a procrastinator--I've written 16,000 words in the manuscript and I've only been working on it for a week. In a welcome twist of irony, trying not to be so productive has made me more productive beyond my wildest dreams. 

I told myself I would get back to enjoying my job. I think I've achieved that.

As far as the actual story, it's fun times all around! The characters are extremely fun to write: nice-but-slightly-snarky test pilot reject Auva Cameron; disgruntled and conflicted alien police officer Renny Gallahan; sly but kindhearted space pirate captain Jahaira Vorrh and her quirky crew; hyperactive rabbit-thing Kee Kitwit; and kindly bookworm gorilla-crocodile Mireya Golm.

Also, it's been fun writing a girl-powered giant robot space opera--like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic in space! With giant robots.

Really excited to share this one with everybody! I'll keep hacking away at it... on my own time, of course. Which means, evidently, an inhumanly feverish pace.

I'll allow it.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Roll for Initiative

I finally had the time to upload another Neopets fic!

There's a bit of a story behind this one. In Worth Searching For, when Hyren and Blynn are in Brightvale, I inserted what was at the time supposed to be a throwaway joke about how Brightvalians are nerds who play Neoquest, which I portray in my body of work as a tabletop roleplaying game akin to Dungeons & Dragons.

However, when I was brainstorming things for Blynn and Hyren to do in Brightvale, I thought it would be great fun - and in-character - if Blynn actually started playing Neoquest.

Then, as I was writing the very emotionally exhausting final chapters of WSF, partway through I decided I just needed a brief change of pace, and I jotted down a cute, fun little story about Blynn starting to Quest Master her own campaigns at home after the events of WSF. It was the perfect breather before I dove back in to the epic climax of WSF. In some ways, this story also serves as an epilogue of sorts in a "what are they doing now" kind of way.

The first version of this story - which got published in the Neopian Times - reads somewhat differently. That version still had Isengrim with what I'll call his "beta personality", and the main gist of the plotline was him and Hyren just barely getting along while Blynn is trying to start a Neoquest campaign.

However, several years later I decided to revise it, and most importantly give Isengrim his current personality. Doing that, I knew the original conflict was no longer workable because he and Hyren now had a very different relationship dynamic by the point the story takes place, and in fact I ended up removing almost all conflict from the story, mostly making it about how everybody enjoys each other's company, and Isengrim and Hyren barely sorta argue about Isengrim wanting to create his Neoquest character his way.

When I took another look at the story in preparation for putting it on this blog--it just sort of fell flat. The depictions of happy fun times playing Neoquest were cozy and all, but it felt like there was no real cadence to the plotline, no sense of rise and fall, conflict and resolution. Obviously that's not something all short stories need, but with my now-vague hints of Isengrim and Hyren disagreeing, I felt like the second version was missing out on a great opportunity for character development and a good Life Lesson.

So I decided to fix this, and I ended up expanding the story a bit and giving Hyren a solid and prominent character arc, and now I think the story reads much more satisfactorily. Now it's about Hyren learning that just because he's the type of person who always wants things done a certain way to his exact specifications, doesn't mean everybody else will want those specifications--but that's okay, and a lot of the time it's more important to just let people enjoy something in the way that brings them happiness and fulfillment, even if it seems nonsensical or inefficient.

It was raining.

It was a crisp Storing evening in Altador, and it was raining, and Hyren was doing his best not to catch a cold.

The blue Grundo hated rain. But he found it easier to tolerate curled up on a plush couch in his family’s library, wrapped in a down comforter, enjoying the blazing heat of the fireplace, and sipping a mug of steaming borovan while reading the Neopian Times.

The rain could patter on the tile roof of their villa and stream down the tall windows as much as it liked, but it could never get to Hyren in here, and that made him feel superior and snug.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Thunder Girl Guest Author Readup on YouTube!

The Thunder Girl Guest Author Readup is now available on YouTube! Since it was kind of a long event, it's been split into three parts: 

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Come geek out with us as we dress in steampunk, learn about fossils, and hear excerpts from the book from the audiobook narrator himself! I had lots of fun!

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

The On Borrowed Wings audiobook has been greenlit! 

Some fans have been requesting this one, so I'm very happy to say that everything is official, and audiobook narrator extraordinaire Benjamin Fife should be starting production sometime next month!

I'm sure he'll do an awesome job, I'm excited to listen to it, and I'm excited to share it with the rest of you! Stay tuned for further updates!

Saturday, April 17, 2021

I'm going to start working on Blue Diver very, very soon, and I'm so excited to have fun in this world and take you guys on a wild galactic adventure! Until then, here's another mech design!

The MMS (Mixam Mechanics Special)-48 Edinrog is a specialized heavy artillery and defensive PT commonly used in the Challinorean Space Navy in some sectors. Edinrogs sacrifice speed and maneuverability in return for raw power and sheer tank-ish-ness. Common armament for Edinrogs is a pair of hip-mounted railguns, as shown here.

In the book, space pirate Mireya Golm pilots an Edinrog that she stole from her world's military when she deserted the Navy for personal reasons. She doesn't particularly enjoy being a pirate, but she also hated being pigeonholed by her society and forced into a job she didn't want. Hopefully somebody can help her and her crewmates resolve their issues...

In contrast to the Glynnlunni, I went a little more "traditional" with the Edinrog, trying to evoke the aesthetic of a very function-over-form military design that's not at all trying to be sleek or graceful, just trying to get the job done with no fuss and no going outside the box. It fits well with Mireya's society and the reasons she abandoned it. Despite this, the Edinrog was what she learned to pilot in the military and it does work well with her personal combat style, so she's kept it.


I was doodling for my niece earlier, and she had me draw pictures of my cats. I thought these turned out so cute that I couldn't bear to delete them.

She specifically asked for sad Chewie, angry Mallow, and regular Mallow. We determined that Chewie is sad because he lost his favorite toy, a bedraggled pink rattle-y mouse named Pinkie. I try buying him other mice toys, but Pinkie remains his bestie.

Also featuring some of my niece's own line work!

Friday, April 16, 2021

Okay, I knowwwww everything is about Thunder Girl right now, but I couldn't help doing some concept sketching for my next novel!

This is an LM (Light Model)-103 Glynnlunni, a PT built for speed and agility in melee combat. The inertial stabilizing fins on its head allow its pilot to perform all sorts of acrobatic feats in space, the environment that the Glynnlunni was developed to perform best in.

Props if you know where I got the name. 😉

In Blue Diver, space pirate Kee Kitwhit pilots a Glynnlunni armed with two wakizashi (Japanese shortswords). She's decorated her unit with some sporty detailing, not shown here, but I may do an edit of this image to include her customizations.

Kee is a Gizmim, a species of cute but hyperactive vaguely vulpine aliens. She's a friendly person, but her off-the-wall personality tends to grate on the nerves of more serious sentients, and Gizmim generally have difficulty fitting in to the dignified demeanor of the Challinorean Empire. Kee turned to piracy because Captain Jahaira Vorrh specializes in taking in misfits and refugees and giving them a home and a purpose on her pirate ship. It might take a newcomer to the galaxy to convince the captain that you don't have to use crime to help outcasts find a place they belong.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

I am beyond excited to announce that the Sternberg Museum of Natural History is partnering with Brad Swift, Benjamin Fife and me for the Thunder Girl readup event!

Located in historic Hays, Kansas, the Sternberg has a world-class collection of beautiful and amazing fossils found in the area. It's also right along the route that Cat and her friends travel to get to Tavakiev (Pike's Peak), which means that many of the species featured in the story can be found in the Sternberg! 

I'm a huge fan of the Sternberg Museum and I love to fangirl their fossils, so having them on board is a dream come true. Education and Outreach Director Ian Trevethan will be on the Zoom call sharing fossils and talking about the science behind the fiction!

Huge thanks to the Sternberg Museum and its representatives for teaming up with us! They've made me a very happy geek indeed.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Thunder Girl coloring pages!

A tradition of Brad Swift's readups is to have coloring pages available so kids (and parents!) can color a scene from the story while listening to Ben Fife narrate. For the Thunder Girl readup, they asked if I wanted to provide illustrations, so I put together some coloring pages!

I had a lot of fun doing these--especially Ceres, who I've never actually drawn before. I had a lot of fun making her look super alien and menacing, which of course completely contrasts with her personality.

You can download all three of these pages at full-resolution here. I've included both print-ready PDFs and the raw high-quality PNGs, whichever suits your fancy (especially if you want to color digitally).

Happy coloring, and I hope to see you on the 17th!

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Check out this brief interview I did with Brad Swift as a preview for my guest author event! You can learn some fun stuff about Thunder Girl, including how the idea came about, and some insights into the development of Hermes.

I hope it gets the gears turning in your brain for more questions to ask me on the 17th!

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Thunder Girl Guest Author Readup!


It's official! (Don't you just love this awesome banner they put together?!)

I'm making a guest appearance on author Brad Swift's series of Zoom events with my zany steampunk dinosaur adventure Thunder Girl!

Benjamin Fife, the narrator of the audiobook version, will be narrating excerpts from the book, and I'll be fielding questions from the audience. There will also be some other fun stuff involved, including but not limited to Thunder Girl coloring pages!

As a reminder, you can sign up here (the page is still displaying information for March's event, but the signup form will still get you registered for my event).

Hope I'll see you there! Or if you don't want to join the Zoom call, I hope you'll enjoy the event via Facebook, or later when it's uploaded to YouTube!