Wednesday, November 25, 2015

First Draft Complete!

My goal was to finish the rough draft of Huron by the end of November, and I typed the last words in the wee hours of November 25th. Another draft completed! Of course, Huron won't be finished (or more accurately, kicked out of the house) until it has undergone a couple rounds of edits and rewrites, beta reading, proofreading, formatting, copyediting, and a lot of frustrated tears.

This is by far my shortest novel, but that's okay since it's YA. The skeleton draft is about 62.5k words, and I'll be fleshing it out and giving it another row of teeth during rewrites. After spending twelve years writing the Malora Octet, finishing a stand-alone novel in a different genre is refreshing.

Huron begins on August 1, 1998 in East Tawas, Michigan. A trio of seventeen-year-olds venture into Huron-Manistee National Forest for a live action role-playing adventure. Before long, all three teenagers realize that something is watching them from the forest, something that no mythology or cryptozoology they know of can explain. Thus begins a twisting, turning, terrifying chase into an old-growth forest inhabited by nightmares.

Friday, November 20, 2015

National Novel Writing Month 2015

This is why I've been aloof lately. I've been working on a new book in a new genre, and I was so into it that I hit the 50k word count NaNoWriMo goal on November 18th instead of the 31st. Here is my participant page if you want to check out my stats.

I'm not finished yet. 50k is awfully short for a novel, so I've got a little ways to go before I'm done with the first draft. I tend to write skeletal first drafts and then add a couple thousand words with each round of rewrites. This will be a shorter book than my previous ones, but that's perfectly fine for the genre and plot.

So, what am I writing? I'm not entirely sure how to categorize Huron yet, so for now I'm calling it YA Horror. It's a funny, scary, old-fashioned horror chase set in 1998 in Iosco County, Michigan. My narrator is Casey Tallis, a snarky and nerdy seventeen year old who heads out into Huron-Manistee National Forest with two friends for a little live action role-playing. Before long, all three teenagers realize that they are being watched by something inhuman.

The picture below isn't my final cover, just a placeholder I made on Canva to put on my NaNo profile. I may still use this concept for the final version, switching up some of the colors and graphics. It suits the tone of the book fairly well. I wasn't expecting Huron to be so funny, but after writing 8 3/4 books, I've learned that sometimes you just have to run with whatever your characters decide to reveal to you. Narrators especially take on lives of their own, and this narrator happens to be hilarious. Hopefully the story still makes sense when I return to it for edits and rewrites in January, because I want to set it loose upon the world sometime in 2016.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Book Sale!

The Crystal Lattice (Emergence #1) is on sale for $0.99 on Amazon. The sale ends the morning of Wed., October 21, so grab your copy before the price goes back up. I may do Kindle Countdown Deals for the other two Emergence books if I have any success with this one.

"The ocean sings to me. The deserts, the wind, the rivers whisper to my soul. The mountains and forests beckon to me, but they are not my masters. I embrace the fire above all else. Starfire and kindling, candlelight and infernos. I am not a disciple of fire – I am the fire. I am wings of flame and sparks on the wind, dampened only by the bitter winter rain and the coldness of an empty universe. I close my eyes and see blazing cascades and meadows of molten rock. I breathe deeply of the ash and char to refresh my spirit and subdue my elemental nature. I open my eyes and return to a far more serene place, the halcyon world of my physical home." - from The Crystal Lattice

Friday, October 2, 2015

Time-Lost Again

I haven't been able to write much recently. It's not due to writer's block or lack of ideas. I'm just exhausted. I have ideas eating away at my mind, but no energy with which to resolve them. I had kidney stone surgery at the end of July and that flared up my narcolepsy to the point that I have trouble staying awake for more than a couple hours at a time. I had bilateral stones, so I had a second procedure, extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy - ESWL, on my other kidney last week. I don't think it worked (will find out next week), so I may be in for a second surgery. I needed a stent for the first one and that was a little traumatic, so the prospect of going through that again is keeping my focus wobbly. I'm time-lost for the moment and hoping this narcolepsy flare doesn't last too much longer.

I do feel a little productive though, due to something I wrote in May. My short story, "They", was published in a little anthology Possibilities Publishing Company put out yesterday. The book is available in both e-book and paperback, so get your copy in whichever format you prefer.

I feel the need to stay productive despite the surgeries and narcolepsy, so I've returned to an old hobby... drawing. I'm planning on including some of my artwork in Rain Falls on Malora. I'm also drawing a geeky coloring book unrelated to my books, but since it's fan art, I don't think I'll be able to publish that unless I figure out copyright for each of the books, TV shows, and movies I've drawn artwork for. You can see some of them on my Instagram, though.

I want to share with you coloring book-style pictures I've drawn of characters from the Malora Octet. I bought a set of art pens recently so this has been a fun new experiment.

Bethel Masiona and Saruza Starsinger. Bethel is always a pain to color
against complex backgrounds for reasons that are obvious if you've
 read the series.

Rain and Dawn. I may alter this into a cover for Rain Falls on Malora
if I end up including Rain's short story in the book.

Silvan and Mairen from Arrow of Entropy. I don't want to be a
spoiler so all I'll say is they're learning how to spar.

Ravaki and Safora from The Crystal Lattice. I'm not happy with their arm
positioning, but I love how the rest of the picture turned out.

This was inspired by Nira's letter to Azfadel in The Crystal Lattice.
It's amazing how just a couple lines reveal her postpartum depression.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Sketching the Imaginary Friends, Part 3

I'm having way too much fun with this project. My creative brain is extremely visual right now. Eventually I'll get the sketches scanned into my computer, and I hope to include them as illustrations (probably grayscale) in my short story collection, Rain Falls on Malora.

Ikuren Nightsong, Masai snow Emergent from Sand into Glass

Wildfire (The Shattered Veil)

Roar Banan (Mayfly Requiem)

Kith (Sand into Glass)
Cinderstorm, the apex phoenix (Arrow of Entropy)

Zephyr and Rhodren Briarwind (Echoes of Oblivion trilogy)

Sevilen and Aridani (Echoes of Oblivion trilogy)

Sevilen and Aridani after shading and detailing

Vutan Gira (Arrow of Entropy)

Rastaban and Sevilen (Before The Abyssal Night)

Zorie Berylatia (Sand into Glass)

Sefa Metavanya, Reed Velarani, Muza Masiona, Faron Masiona (Emergence trilogy)

Friday, August 28, 2015

Sketching the Imaginary Friends, part 2

I've been having too much fun with this sketching project even though some of my pictures end up a little heartbreaking if you have read the books they came from. I'm not sure what I'll do with these yet other than find the proper cable so I can hook up my scanner and make digital copies of them. That will also give clearer and more colorful images than the camera on my phone can offer.

Ariana Achara and Rastaban Eryaucra (before The Abyssal Night)

Thora and Solace Achara (Shards of Chaos)

River and Onyx (Shards of Chaos/Echoes of Oblivion trilogy)
Saruza Starsinger (Echoes of Oblivion trilogy)

Arden Masiona and Aerlya Metavanya (Sand into Glass)

Lirit Narsimor (Shards of Chaos/Echoes of Oblivion trilogy)

Ember and Moth (The Abyssal Night/Echoes of Oblivion trilogy)

Zella Thula and Rassa Buananor (Arrow of Entropy). This
is based on a specific scene a couple chapters into the book.
Hands still vex me, but I think I'm improving at drawing them.
I've been photographing my line drawings before I color them in and occasionally I like those better than the final versions. Here are some of them.

I started with Rassa, then added Zella behind him.

Arden and Rassa ended up looking similar, which was intentional since they're related.
Lirit started out wearing pants but my 3 year old insisted she needed a skirt.

The Achara twins were adorable and I was hesitant to color them.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Whose Story is This, Anyway?

My Maloran imaginary friends are still bouncing around my mind, especially when I sleep. My narrators aren't typically my favorite characters in the books, but they certainly are the loudest. Four of the books are told in first person, one is mixed first and third because Isen is relating Bethel's side of the story in addition to her own, and the six perspectives in the Echoes of Oblivion trilogy are third person.

Mayfly Requiem 

Lani - Mayfly is Lani's journal, a confession of over 2,500 years of his history. He is a fallen Aulor, a biologically immortal Time Child who both observed and participated in the rises and falls of the continent of Malora over his lifetime. He is the twin brother of the Aulor Dia and the son of Aucra and Eryagloris, Time and Stars. Lani is a romantic poet at heart and his narrative style reflects that.

Echoes of Oblivion trilogy

The Abyssal Night, Shards of Chaos, The Shattered Veil
Sevilen Achara - Sevilen is the younger brother of Rastaban Eryaucra, the tyrannical King of Ganebra. He begins the trilogy as a bookish eighteen year old and soon finds himself in a position of apparent power he can't escape from. He is gifted in both linguistics and swordsmanship, is fiercely protective of the people he loves, and is still trying to figure out how to deal with his narcolepsy.

Rhodren Briarwind - Rhodren is also eighteen at the beginning of the trilogy. He grew up in the green city of Heren, Maritor, and is the only child of a baker named Sharo Briarwind. He is finicky and often self-centered, but he occasionally also manages to be charismatic and compassionate. He has auditory-tactile synesthesia, a sensory quirk that is strange to everyone else even though it is his normal.

Ember - Ember is a Geophorian fire priest from the temple city of Reedwater, Anor. She begins the trilogy at age twenty-three. Like most fire priests, she is impulsive and destructive, but her inferno soul is cooled and balanced by her wind priest husband, Moth. She was found abandoned in the swamp as a newborn so has no knowledge of her parentage.

Lirit Narsimor - Lirit is the ten year old daughter of Lucienus Narsimor, a member of the King's Council. Her family belongs to Ganebra's privileged ruling class. She is an aspiring stage actress who, like all members of her social class, was taught to blindly revere and obey the King.

Tikaari Starsinger - Tikaari is a Tenjeri, the race of fox-like people who mostly live in the northern regions of the world. She is the mate of Seya and the mother of Miya, Theta, and Saruza. The Tenjeri were inspired by the Japanese kitsune.

Aridani Eryaucra - I won't give much away about Aridani since his perspective doesn't begin until Shards of Chaos. He's a scatterbrained dreamer with an interesting magical ability, and his point of view offers a new perspective on Rastaban.

Shadows of Absolution
Isen Layel - Isen is a ranger of the Baku, a post-cataclysmic community of mountain dwellers founded by the earth priests Thora Achara and Onyx. She is the daughter of ranger Lusa Layel and earthworker Zoli Achara. At the onset of her story, Isen is drowning in a fathomless ocean of depression after losing the man she loved. She is a strong, intelligent young woman whose talent for wilderness survival piques the interest of the Aulor, Bethel.

Bethel Masiona - As far as Aulors go, Bethel is a young one, just over 100 years old. He survived the cataclysm sixty years prior and is now watching his children and his friends grow old and die while he remains physically around thirty. He has spent the years since the fall on a quest to find any remaining Tenjeri survivors and is now collecting a small group of people to take across the ocean and into the wilderness of a new continent in pursuit of the legendary Tenjeri city of Trieskel. Bethel's lingering regrets are busy trying to drag his sanity into the Abyss.

Sand into Glass

Arden Masiona - We meet Arden about 7,800 years after the Fall of Ganebra, when the humans of Malora (now called Melor) have split into multiple races due to Aulor/Elemental interference and isolation. The youngest child of the Aulor Bethel Masiona is a gifted materials scientist with an explosive rage that has now landed him in a Drey prison awaiting trial for a murder he isn't certain he committed. Arden's mother is an Efi, a member of the race of long-lived forest guardians who live mostly in the western wilderness of the continent, and Arden's Aulor blood gives him additional longevity, so he is 407 years old when his story begins.

The Crystal Lattice 

Tesji Brier (Thula) - Tesji is a young half-Efi elementalist mage who was raised by his eccentric, reclusive grandfather Janakei Brier in the Efilon Wilderness village of Tiponia. He is both charismatic and socially awkward, a combination that renders him an outcast as a child and eventually leads to a career as a bard as he travels across Melor in pursuit of the locations that haunt his dreams and nightmares. Tesji is the eldest of my novel-dwelling imaginary friends since I wrote his story first, so he's quite special to me despite his excessive alliteration and tendency to exaggerate.

Arrow of Entropy

Zella Thula - Shy, serious, analytical light mage Zella is a contrast to her often-flamboyant father, Tesji, and her outgoing siblings, Sora and Ellis. After Bethel refuses to take her on as an Emergent student, she ends up under the guidance of Rassa, an Aulor whose ancient curse was broken forty-two years earlier. Zella loves physics, reading, and music, and she's much stronger than she believes she is.

My short story narrators can be found here.

...and, now here's a little teaser narrator from what will be my next book, which is set in Northeastern Michigan in the late 1990s. I don't have a title for this book yet, but it will come to me eventually. I'll let this narrator do their own introduction.

Casey Tallis - "I'm not one of the cool kids. I'm not a goth or a jock or one of the pretty ones. I'll never be popular. I'm the dork who plays trombone in the marching band and is two years ahead of everyone else in math. I have Science Olympiad medals on my bedroom wall, hanging off a hook I made in the blacksmithing shop at a Renaissance Festival. I watch The X-Files and Star Trek: Voyager instead of Friends and I still miss SeaQuest. I don't like pop music and I spend my weekends either reading or playing Dungeons & Dragons with the other dorks. I once fell out of a pine tree and sprained my ankle while pretending to be a halfling rogue. I don't want to be one of the cool kids. I want to be me. I won't apologize for being me."

Friday, August 14, 2015

Sketching the Imaginary Friends

I drew and doodled all the time as a teenager and young adult, but that hobby faded away as my movement disorder developed in my early 20s. I found my old pencil set in the garage a couple days ago and that rekindled my interest. I've started sketching out some of my characters. I used to go for a more realistic look, but since my hands shake now I've decided to switch to an anime/manga style. My artwork isn't very good and I'm experimenting with style, but I still think the characters turned out adorable. Hands have always been my bane, but I'm working on that. I need to get my scanner hooked up so I can get better images of the pictures.

Who would you like to see me attempt to sketch next?

First time I've sketched people in years. Hands are daunting so I hid them.

Zella, Rassa, Mairen, Silvan (Arrow of Entropy)

Closeup of Zella and Rassa

Closeup of Mairen and Silvan

Bethel and Sora (Arrow of Entropy)
Yes, Bethel's coloring isn't his usual, but there is a good reason for that. You'll have to read it to find out why. 

I love Sora's face in this. It's amazing how personality and emotion can be shown with just a couple lines.

Safora and Terali (The Crystal Lattice)

Ellis Thula (Arrow of Entropy)
I love Ellis. His sister describes his style as "an explosion of flamboyancy" and you never quite know what is going to come out of either his mouth or his mind. My three year old is in love with this picture because of the flamingo.

Line drawing

Color added

Background added (lighting washed out my colors a little)

Lani (Mayfly Requiem and the rest of the Malora Octet)