Friday, August 27, 2021

More paleoarts! I can't get over how adorable Lystrosaurus is.

10 Myths About Being an Author I'd Like to Bust

When it comes to my authorial career (or lack thereof), this past year has been a tremendous learning experience. I'm sorry to say it's largely been an experience in finding out what doesn't work. But, like any good scientist*, I was open to possibilities and decided I would at least try some things to see if they made any positive difference. The lack of desired results was a highly informative result in itself. I can now definitively say I know what I don't want to do as an author, and I can also pass this information along to other authors, indie and otherwise, to prevent them from learning certain things the hard way.

*I am not a professional scientist, just a huge nerd.

You can read my series of long-winded essays over this past year to get a feel for what I've been trying to figure out and the sorts of trouble I got myself into. Suffice to say here that trying to follow "advice", "best practices", etc. for authors, which I gleaned from books, online articles, and personal correspondence with other well-meaning authors, not only did not get me an increase in sales, but plunged me into a bout of horrendous stress-related health issues. My life lacked joy and fulfillment, ironically as I was striving to find joy and fulfillment in my work. It felt like the harder I tried to get my career to where I thought it should be in order to have a meaningful life, the worse things got and the more meaningless my life felt.

Finally I came to the point where I had to admit to myself that all of this just was not working at all. I unloaded 95% of what I had accumulated in my fruitless quest to advance my career, and immediately found myself happier and less stressed. And I vowed to do things as a writer my way and listen to what God and my body were telling me, rather than listen to a million voices on the Internet who don't know me, don't particularly care about my overall well-being, and are imperfect humans who can just be plain incorrect.

As a disclaimer--if you actually enjoy doing any of the below-mentioned items, and/or find that they are really helping you in what you want out of your career, that's awesome. I'm really happy for you. But these are all things that just gave me an immense amount of stress and health issues, so I firmly believe they are not a "must" for every author, and do not even guarantee more readers/sales/whatever. Every author, every artist reserves the right to create and share their work in a way that is healthy for them. It's not worth making more money off your work if most of those funds are going toward medical bills for problems caused by overstress in the pursuit of making more money. Make sense?

Okay, let's dive on in.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Paleoart doodles!

I apologize for any scientific inaccuracy; I was not working from reference.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Concept sketches for my My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic OC, Princess Radiant Dawn. I wrote several fanfics about her, and I might put them up on the blog once I'm done posting all my Neopets fics.

And more concept art for The Spirit of Black Keep. Misty and Fenris are minor characters who show up near the end... they're also the main characters of the first thing I ever got into the Neopian Times. Here it is in all its horrifically bad glory, if you want to burn your eyes out with my awful teenage writing: Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3

Anyway, when I was writing The Spirit of Black Keep and faeries got involved, I thought it would be fun to toss in SQUAD Squadron as an inside joke.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

On Borrowed Wings sketches!

Nimbus, Jacob, and Audrey being glowy Dolens. These sketches also show how powerful they are compared to each other--Nimbus barely knows how to work her powers, Jacob's pretty good at it, and Audrey is just terrifying.

And the concept sketch for the cover art!

Monday, August 16, 2021

Even more Neopets sketches!

Here's some concept art for Hyren, both in mutant and blue forms. 

Yes, I am aware mutant Hyren looks like The Tick.

Friday, August 13, 2021

More Neopets sketches!

These next sketches are concept doodles for my Neopian Times story The Spirit of Black Keep, which I'm looking forward to putting up here on the blog when I get to it. It's exciting adventures with a bossy fire sorceress, a reluctant wizard-in-training, a not-so-bad dark faerie, and a familiar face from Meridell's past. Working together, can they fix what's gone wrong with Black Keep and prevent an ancient evil from rearising?

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Dances With Werelupes, Chapter 3

Chapter 1 - Chapter 2 - Chapter 3

“Now,” Isengrim said, “we… er… move in circles. I think.” He began to lead his owner in a slow, swaying pivot.

Terra took a moment to get used to the footwork. “Hm… I think we’re supposed to be moving to the rhythm of the music.”

Isengrim glanced up at the musicians. “Oh. Right.” The two adjusted accordingly.

“This isn’t too bad at all,” Terra said as they began to ease into it. “When you read about it in books, it always seems so much more complicated—“ Isengrim suddenly flinched and drew a sharp breath, making Terra jump. “Did I just step on your foot?” she asked.

“It’s okay,” Isengrim said with a chuckle.

“Sorry,” Terra said, biting her lip.

“I assure you, it was not the worst wound I have ever received,” Isengrim said. “We can keep going. I think we are getting the hang of this."

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Dances With Werelupes, Chapter 2

Chapter 1 - Chapter 2 - Chapter 3

The Werelupe King’s fur flattened. “Lady Illusen. I was not expecting to see you here.”

“The sentiment is mutual,” the faerie said, folding her arms and tilting her head, looking up at him like a disapproving parent. Illusen was taller and longer-limbed than any normal human, but the Werelupe still easily won in the height and bulk division. Not that that kept him from looking intimidated by the powerful magical being’s presence.

“Well, then,” Isengrim said, ears still low, “we can both go our separate ways and not trouble each other any longer.”

“Tell me,” Illusen said, drumming her fingers on her arms, “are you planning on stealing the Chocolatier’s recipes? You’re quite good at taking things that don’t belong to you.”

“I would never do such a thing,” Isengrim said. Although he tried to maintain his composure, a low growl started in his throat.

“Really?” Illusen asked. “Because you’ve done it before. To me.”

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Dances With Werelupes, Chapter 1

I've finally had the time to spruce up another Neopets fanfic!

This one came about when I was reading old issues of the Neopian Times and came across some stories and articles written about Neopia's annual Chocolate Ball. As I am a chronic chocoholic, I thought it would be really fun to try my hand at writing about Neopia's most chocolatey event of the year. And, hot off the tails of Worth Searching For, which sort of opened up a whole new can of worms for my recurring Neopets cast, I thought it would be really fun to write about Isengrim attending the ball as an attempt to integrate into Neopian high society, and Terra of course going along for the ride to help him out.

If you look this fic up in issues 698-699 of the Times, you'll notice that this revision is quite a bit different. The original version not only involved Isengrim's "beta" personality, but also had a plotline revolving heavily around him being socially awkward and Terra trying to do damage control.

Well, with his revised personality, a lot of that social awkwardness went out the window, stat. And in reading the fic again with more writing experience under my belt, I felt like the whole thing needed a more satisfactory character arc--for both Isengrim and Terra. What was kind of a throwaway bit in the first chapter about her feeling slightly intimidated by all the big names attending the ball, I expanded into a thread running through the whole story about Terra grappling with impostor syndrome. Some of the snooty guests at the ball don't exactly help matters, and Isengrim makes things more complicated when their treatment of his owner piques his ire. Now the story is about Terra and Isengrim both coming to an understanding of how they need to conduct themselves in public, as the heroes and leaders that they truly are.

I feel like these changes, while sometimes drastic (at one point I even rewrote an entire scene so that the incident happens to Terra and not Isengrim), give more meaning to the story and let Terra have her due time to learn some things and come off triumphant.

I also took out all mention of Lupes eating Chias, because that's a very old concept that was pretty much dropped from the official site lore after a few years, and the idea of one Neopet species eating another is just kinda weird. (When Neopets first started out, Neopets themselves were treated more like animals by the website, but time has seen them grow steadily more anthropomorphic.)

I'm anticipating needing to edit stories less and less as I move along to more recent stuff, but since I have the opportunity to revisit these older works, I'm taking the opportunity to spruce them up and make them something I'm really proud of and happy to share.

Also, I hope you all recognize the nerdy linguistic joke in the first chapter. It helps to know Welsh.

Chapter 1 - Chapter 2 - Chapter 3

“This is an outrage!” Blynn said as she backhanded the front page of the Neopian Times. The disco Zafara’s magenta tail lashed behind her in frustration as she paced around the library of her family’s Altador villa.

Her faerie Draik brother edged over her shoulder to look at the headlines. “What’s an outrage?” Pharazon asked.

“This!” Blynn pointed to the largest text on the page: PREPARATIONS FOR ANNUAL CHOCOLATE BALL UNDERWAY. Beneath it was an illustration of the Chocolate Factory shopkeeper overseeing the decoration of an enormous dancing hall.

Pharazon’s brows pinched together in confusion. “Yes, that’s… that’s terrible, Blynn. My condolences. I think.”

Monday, August 9, 2021


This started out as a Peophin and then kinda morphed into a nondescript hippocamp. 

Testing out brushes with Pharazon.

These sketches are so old, they're from all the way back when we first adopted my cat! Chewie was probably around two months old when we took him in. He was a round little puffball who didn't even weigh two pounds.

But we fed him and spoiled him rotten and now

he is this 15-pound behemoth.

Love you, buddy.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

My tablet PC has some nice art software, and I was looking through the stuff I'd drawn on there and realized there was a lot I'd never uploaded to the blog! It's old, but not disastrously bad. so I thought I'd post it here, a few at a time.

These first sketches are a little rough because I was still figuring out the software, trying out brushes, etc.

Anomalocaris with guest appearance by Wiwaxia

Concept sketch for Isengrim in his battle armor. Which doubles as his formal wear. Because Werelupes are weird awesome like that.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

The On Borrowed Wings audiobook is out! Get it now on Audible, or look for it on iTunes soon (like probably by the time you read this)!

It's been a long, twisty path to get this audiobook finished, but Ben Fife was great to work with through the whole process, and he did a fantastic job. (For Audrey, I pretty much told him to channel his inner Toph from Avatar: The Last Airbender.)