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)

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Snippet Sunday: Creatures

I made these two little guys last night and love how they turned out. The gourdling is probably cuter than it should be, but I still like it. The rychan is kind of nightmarish, probably more how Lani sees them than how other people see them. Rychan can be a nuisance but they're usually harmless. Gourdlings on the other hand...


They wore nothing but hollowed-out gourds tied over their shoulders with bundles of spiderwebs. Tufts of woolly, green hair sprouted from random locations on their leathery brown bodies. Their eyes were the same color as their skins and had no whites, so I had difficulty determining if either of them were looking directly at me. They each grabbed one of my knees between gnarled, green-nailed hands, and then ushered me into a large burrow.
--The Crystal Lattice


Rychan frighten me. The Web's prison was full of them, but they were not prisoners. The rychan were the guards, and every time I hear a branch scratching a window, I remember their claws scraping across the floor and clinking over the crystal gates. Such a horrible sound, unmistakable, yet everything mundane reminds me of it. Sleep in my cell was painfully quiet, but my imagination concocted waking nightmares nonetheless, and rychan were among the worst of them.

I suppose rychan were the closest thing in Malora to the mythical dragons, but they looked little like dragons and more like enormous mice with massive membraned wings and silk-furred tails. They were scavenger feeders, and their talons and sharp teeth frightened me the most. I saw the guards in shadows and darkened whispers. They brought me food and water, but I knew they would rather slash me open if I gave them an excuse. I heard the screams, saw the claws dripping with blood. I behaved. For the first time in my life, I truly and voluntarily behaved. Compliance was my only hope for clemency.
--Mayfly Requiem

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Arrow of Entropy

It's over. It's finally over. The Malora Octet is complete.

12 years of work, 8 books, approximately 2570 printed 6"x9" pages, 10,500 years of history, 14 meddling and fallible gods, 4 reluctant demigods, 11 point of view characters, few survivors.

Arrow of Entropy published this morning for both eBook and paperback

I unleashed this final volume with a mixture of relief, elation, and sadness. I feel like I'm moving away from a familiar place, away from my friends and comfortable surroundings, and traveling into the unknown. I can always go back to visit, but I no longer live there. Home is somewhere else now. I think you'll see why when you read this story. There was a broad arc to this series, and Arrow reaches the end point of that arc. I'm playing short stories told by minor characters from the series, but those are just little treats for my loyal readers to give them some additional historical depth and some interesting twists in the canon that didn't fit into the main narrative.

Onward, and I'm waiting for the moving truck to arrive so I can unpack the elements of my new storytelling home. I already have a new imaginary best friend, and this one is straight out of my adolescence. I'm switching genres for a while and working on a concept for a horror novel set in Northeastern Michigan in the mid-to-late 1990s. I've already experiemented with this and had great results... my short story "They" is being published in a Halloween anthology soon.

I'll keep you updated on the anthology as I know more about the release date and title. I'm excited about it, since it's the first time I've submitted my work for consideration and the publisher snapped it up.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy Arrow of Entropy. A lot of love went into this book, and although it ended up being a totally different animal from the previous books, I believe it is a fitting conclusion to the Malora Octet.