Thursday, February 20, 2014

A title has dropped into my lap...

This picture fed through in my Facebook feed earlier today and hit me with an epiphany:

I now have a title for the Camp NaNoWriMo novel I'll be writing later this year! Super excited about that because I'm usually scrambling for a title, but now I'll at least have a working one. It's apt because while my current project has some secondary characters that do actually fight/control shadows (and are shadows at times... Etri, would you get back here and solidify?), that's going to be the main theme of the next story.

I'm still chugging along with my current '13 novel Unexpected Inspiration and have been filling in the last quarter of it or so, but even if I don't finish that one by April, I'll put it aside for a bit to work on the next one. Three months late and I'm still wondering how anyone can get to "the end" in thirty days. I'm nearing 80,000 words, well past the NaNo 50k I reached in November, but the ending scenes are still taunting me from a great many chapters away. As the story takes shape, however, I'm starting to eye an earlier point as a potential split into two books. I do love all of these carnival performers, so I wouldn't mind writing a series about them. That's such a relief after having to force myself to get even a quarter of the way through my (currently abandoned) '12 novel!

I'm already starting to jot down ideas for "Sciamachy" (which Firefox refuses to acknowledge is a word) and have two characters so far; one's a secondary character from "Unexpected Inspiration" and the other is the daughter of characters from that same story. It'll be a challenge to write a mute mime as a protagonist, particularly when he's been stuck outside of time and reality for a decade, but I'm willing to try! (It can't be any harder than writing a blind protagonist...) It's possible that the other main character flirting with disaster from the magic she wants crossing with the magic she has will be easier to write. Light and shadow really shouldn't be mixed in one person, but I think she's going to have to risk that in order to free the weird shadow-boy who keeps leaving invisible objects where she can find them. Plot subject to change between now and April, of course.

Now back to working on the current story. That daughter's entire existence hinges on me finding a way to bring her father back to life in a way that isn't contrived or asinine. I'd rather not have the ghost of a goth teenager following me around from story to story, bemoaning sarcastically my shortcomings as a writer. ;)


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Character-inspired accessories

I love that this is my writing blog, but I tend to post more artsy things than writing things. Oops? When I was looking back at the previous post of my Seph and Meren dolls, I remembered that last summer I made costume-y things related to both of those characters.

First up is the headband inspired by Seph's blindfold. My husband sketched out the design for me, then I embroidered it onto a strip of fabric and sewed it into a headband in the shape of said blindfold. I wanted something with a stylized heart because Seph is a priest of the god of love and I think he did a good job creating that pattern without making it look too girly. This is supposed to be the design a twenty-three year old guy wears. Every time I poked myself with the needle and complained about wonky stitches, my husband pointed out that the blind guy managed to make one of these. Dang, outdone by my own fictional creation.

Here's a closeup:

Gold and white embroidered headband

And see? It's a headband:
Embroidered headband
(Actually, this picture is apt because it works for Meren, too. On my arms were the tattoos for my Meren cosplay! Err.. and ignore the fact that it's a terrible picture of me.)

For Meren, I mixed together bits and pieces to create something that looks like the magical amulet from Hidden Magic:
Amulet for my elf costume

Originally I tried clay, like I made for my Raff costume, but I couldn't get it to look right, so I dug through my pile of stray pendants that I collect and found this gold-colored one that used to belong to one of my grandmothers. That design didn't work, but I realized that it's hollow/concave, and that would work! So I glued in a circle of green felt and glued a green glass stone on top of that, and tada! The back of the pendant is now the front. The glass doesn't quite line up with the shape of the pendant so there's a bit of a gap, but it isn't as noticeable in person. It's not quite what I picture the amulet to look like, but since that was made by a wizard, I figured I could only do so much with glue. ;)

Here's what the other side of it looks like:
Amulet front and back

I also feathered up my simple wooden walking stick to make a staff to go with that costume. Here's what the top looks like:
Quarterstaff - finished

Once the weather warms up, I'm planning on doing another costume photoshoot as Meren since my costume has changed a little since last time. I've also been putting together a costume for Blythe, so expect another costume post in a few months. I swear, half the fun of writing is getting to make things related to the characters.

I can sort of make this post more writing-related, though! This week I wrote character biographies for Blythe and Adair, so Drake's the only one still blank. I'll get to him later- if he promises to behave in my writing and stop causing trouble. ;)


Monday, February 3, 2014

Seph and Meren as plushies

I finally got around to finishing the plushies I made of Seph and Meren... geez, one and two and a half years ago, respectively. Meren was missing her quiver and bow and Seph was missing his facial hair; tiny details, but details that got pushed to the wayside.

Seph is my healer-priest of Eros, the protagonist of my on-hold '12 NaNo.
Seph D&D Plushie (Healer Priest)
Seph D&D Plushie (Healer Priest)

These eyes are a pain to photograph, but they're actually pupil-less ones. Seph's eyes are a blank red-violet thanks to his god taking away his vision, so I was very glad when I found these that I could paint! They don't quite look blank once in the doll, which would normally drive me nuts, but usually Seph wears his blindfold, so it probably doesn't matter.

That's supposed to be an arrow-shaped medallion around his neck (that's the holy symbol of his order) and he's carrying a satchel (which he uses to hold his herbs and healing supplies). I tried to get the sleeves to be passably billowy under the white wraps, but crochet doesn't really billow. For a random factoid, this character hates those stupid sleeves on his uniform.

And here's Meren, my wood elfling mage.
Meren D&D Plushie (Wood Elf)
Meren D&D Plushie (Wood Elf)

I decided on a slightly different outfit than she has in her character art and went with her summer clothing. Basically I wanted to have an excuse to use strips of leather on a doll for clothing.

Here's a slightly better picture of her shirt (such as it is) and her quiver:
Meren D&D Plushie (Wood Elf)

I have the amulet around her neck that she and Phillip spend most of Hidden Magic fighting over, so I'm expecting to one day find it around the neck of my Phillip plushie. I love how many tattoos this girl has! Most of her body is covered in green vines and swirls, so that was fun to paint on the doll. The bracers, little pouches, and bow and quiver were fun to make, too.

One of these days I'll get around to making more dolls, so I'll share those when I do. :)


Sunday, December 22, 2013

More avatar art from NaNoWriMo '13

Oh no, I've been sucked into that avatar generator again. I have too many characters living in my head and they all want me to know what they look like. ;) I'm kind of surprised I haven't made these before now since the twins are my favorite characters in this year's NaNo. (I swear I'll get back to this after the holidays. December doesn't leave me with much free time.) Sol is the silly Lightbringer (light-mage; he summons and controls light and fire) and Etri is the quiet Shadowwalker (darkness-mage; he snuffs out light/fire and can inhabit the dark part of reality that not many can see). Technically their occupations have them as a fire-breather and a fire-eater, but that's just a cover, as Blythe figures out when Etri drags her into the shadow-realm to chase down intangible creatures that are haunting the city.

It's easy to tell them apart, but they're not as pigeonholed as they sound. I'm not one for predictable or flat characters. Or, rather, I'm the queen of too much character development. ;)

Ye gads they're pale, but this has some meaning because they're from the part of the world where the story ends up. So they look foreign at the beginning, but by the end of the story it's the other characters who look like they don't belong. In my head it's kind of neat, but I'm not sure if this is going to come across much in the writing. They start off looking like mirror (reverse?) images of each other, but as the story goes on and they drop their carnival act in favor of the adventure, this starts to change, so I wanted to go with that instead of making them matchy-matchy (although Sol will always wear bright sunny colors and Etri will always be... well, goth). I'm pretty happy with these avatars, but I have such a clear idea in my head of what they look like that the avatar generator couldn't get them perfectly there. I'll admit I did kind of go crazy with the backdrops. But hey, one spends a portion of the story glowing like a sun and the other is half in the shadow-world at any given time. (Still looking for a good term for that. Shadow-realm? Plane of shadows? Mirror-reality? I'll think of something.) I wanted to play around with that kind of magic.

When I resized the images to fit on my blog, I realize how much I don't like how their facial expressions look when smaller. So here are closeups at the original size:

I also don't like how it's hard to see the shading, so Etri's shirt looks like a priest's collar. *headdesk* It's just supposed to be that he wears a lot of layers of clothing and keeps most of his skin covered. (Sol's barefoot because the generator didn't have a sandal option. He doesn't feel the cold; his magic gives him an abnormally warm body temperature. Etri wears layers because his body temperature is chilly, so he's always cold.) I added in their earrings and tattoos in Paintshop. Etri's were easy because they're mostly covered by his shirt, but he gets blue and black moons and stars while Sol has yellow and orange suns. Cheesy, but all of my circus people are kind of over the top. (I have no idea how I'm going to make an avatar of my mime with his silly hat. LOL! Stay tuned to see if I can figure that strange costume out.)

This is reminding me that I still haven't written up bios for any of my 2013 NaNo characters. I should get on that. And, ya know, finish my dang NaNo. The poor characters are in limbo and I think Etri is holding me back because he's seeing the evil glint in my eye directed at him. He should know by now that I torment my favorites more than the others. He should have seen his impending doom coming from a mile away. Mwahaha. But: favorite. It'll work out in the end.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Dear Characters (NaNo '13) - Part 3

((I passed 50k about six days early, but I still have so much left to write! Just now getting to the last arc of the story which will prepare everyone for the end, but "the end" is still a distant dream...))

Dear Drake (the Charmer),
Ah, so that's what happens when you get your magic back: you ignore every good thing you've learned over the past few weeks and trigger the most unintentionally vindictive party split ever. I'd be impressed if I wasn't wondering how I'm going to fix this mess! You know who isn't impressed? Everyone else. I mean, Blythe drew a weapon on you while Etri is just as angry (I don't know what he was planning on doing with that torch, but I have a feeling you wouldn't like it), and good luck repairing your relationship with Sol after, ya know, you kidnapped his siblings by mind controlling them. You truly are the king of bad decisions. All this aside, major kudos for making this whole thing a lot more interesting and fun to write!

Dear Etri (the Shadowwalker),
Yeah, what were you planning on doing with that torch? I'm still not entirely sure how your magic works. When you become a shadow, can you see into a different world? Does dark become light? Does your magic bring you half into the invisible world that's turned the mime crazy? Oh, speaking of, could you find that mime for me? He's supposed to have joined the story by now and he's off somewhere silently flailing in fear.

Dear Blythe (the Protector),
Chill. Adair is capable of taking care of himself. Sort of. He would be if the consequences of Drake's earlier actions hadn't set off a separate chain of events, anyway. Trust me, you've got enough to worry about considering that your group is going to come into contact with the baddie and without the missing three teammates, you have a snowball's chance in hell of winning. You're leading your trio, so it's up to you to keep it together until your ringmaster finds you again.


Dear Adair (the Illusionist),
On the positive side, at least your group's mini-boss isn't going to be the big baddie. On the negative side, you three are probably only going to get away by the skin of your teeth thanks to Drake taking everyone with weapons with him. (Sheesh, who needs to throw bosses at you guys when Drake's doing a darn good job of being an antagonist himself?) But hey, I need to prepare you guys for the endgame. Here's a hint: you three are the creative ones. Use that to your advantage.

Dear Chantrell (the Melodist),
Say 'hi' to your brother for me. You should have known after seeing all those missing person posters that he's going to find you and track you down. I'm still trying to figure out your magic, too, by the way. What's your focus if it usually comes through as sound? Have you had a tiny instrument tucked away all this time?

Dear Sol (the Lightbringer),
You're taking all this surprisingly well, but then again, you're literally a ball of sunshine. Too bad you lost that extra power because you're going to be wanting that in your upcoming scenes. Keep that brightness; the other two will need your positivity and your light. You could always put that dumb hat back on the cat if it'll distract Adair, but I have a feeling you can do better than that. After all, you are my comic relief!

~Meri, your author who is beginning to panic because there's only five days left of NaNo and you guys are still chapters and chapters away from meeting up again. (Would someone please tie Drake up or something so he doesn't spawn another plot line or twelve?)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dear Characters (NaNo '13) - Part 2

((I'm at about 35,000 words with my current NaNo story and the plot's just over half finished, so it's time for another "Dear Character" post.))

Dear Adair (the Illusionist),
Watching you fumble through love is amusing, but don't you have, you know, a quest? And don't tell me you're still waiting on the next call so you don't know where to go. You have those magical maps, right? ...Oh, what the heck. I'm making you deal with this bunch of goofballs carnival performers (and you haven't even reached the delusional mime yet...), so I guess I can't begrudge you those little cartoon hearts you have floating above your head. ... or was that you testing out your magic again? Have you figured out yet that you can draw 3d things in the air?

Dear Blythe (the Protector),
Okay, at this point everyone knows that you're a girl. Everyone. I'm honestly surprised that none of them have let this fact slip yet. (And by "none of them" I mean "Sol". Hate to say it, Blythe, but your friend is kind of an idiot.) And Adair keeps not being able to breathe whenever you get in close proximity to him; if he turns purple, will you catch on that he knows your secret? (Wait, I already have a purple character. Scratch that.)

Dear Drake (the Charmer),
What exactly is going to happen to you when you get your magic back? Right now you're so very not Drake and the others like this version of you. So what happens when you go back to getting everything you want and making people do whatever you want because of your mind-control? When the rest see the real you? This could be a problem. By the way, I still don't have any hobbies or secondary skills for you. You better find some quickly or you'll end up expendable.

Dear Sol (the Lightbringer),
While Drake ended up with the "most unlucky character in the story" award, apparently you drew the short straw for the role of "adorable idiot" this time around. (I'd recommend breaking the fourth wall and asking Raff for pointers if you get stuck.) This may end up with you turning into the comic relief, but since you're all circus folk, that's a title you may have to share. And would you quit putting that silly hat on the cat? Where do you people keep finding these things??

Dear Etri (the Shadowwalker),
Please stop getting yourself lost in the background. I keep losing track of you! I know that's rather the point to who you are, mister not only hides in shadow but is a shadow, but you seem to be the brains of the group. Adair needs your opinions because he's not yet the ringmaster your brother jokingly calls him.

Dear Chantrell (the Melodist),
I'll be introducing you within the next day, so I suppose I should say hi and welcome you to the insanity. Just to let you know, that tiger is just Adair's cat. You'll figure this out when she goes "Mrrrt?" and tries to rub against your leg. You'll get used to Addy's illusions.

~Meri, the writer who is trying to figure out how she's going to juggle six characters with another one coming later. (At least two of you are jugglers. A little help here?)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Dear Characters (NaNo '13)

((I haven't done any of these "Dear Character" or "Dear Writer" posts for this year's NaNo yet, so it's time to remedy that! These are the key players at the moment.))

Dear Adair (the apprentice Illustrator-Mage),
Would you please please please stop thinking about food for five minutes? I know you're a teenaged boy, but geez, who thinks a pie will get them into a guarded location? You're cute, kid, even if you are kind of silly. I'm giving you an assignment that you'll love, by the way: find a new cat. I need this for a group writing prompt and I know you'll be sad about having to leave your three behind once you realize you're not coming back.

Dear Blythe (the would-be Blade-Mage/blade-dancer),
Are you finally beginning to catch on that magic is real? If Adair's sketchbook of moving drawings wasn't enough to prove this, I'm sure you can ask Etri how his magic works. Then again, he's a performer; he might not actually want you to know his secrets. But you know him better than I do since he's your closest friend and I just met him this week. What do you think? (And would you please let on to Adair sometime soon that you're a girl? I keep writing the wrong pronoun for you EVERY TIME. By the time I get used to calling you "boy" and "him", Adair will have figured it out and then I'm going to have to get myself re-accustomed to the correct terms.)

Dear Drake (the Blade-Mage/fire-dancer),
I'll get to you eventually, I promise. Maybe by Tuesday? While you're waiting, please think of some secondary skills and hobbies that you can fall back on when your magic is taken. Your life seems to revolve far too much around getting what you want because of your mind-control! Heck, even Adair likes to cook and Blythe knows something about healing and technically their lives are busier than yours. Not everything has to do with your magic, ya know. (And I don't think seducing people really counts as a hobby.)

Dear Sol (the Light-Mage/fire-breather),
Umm... sorry for making you my baddie's next victim? You were one of the first drained, so assuming you don't try to light any more fires magically for a few days, you'll be fine. Please tell Adair this so he stops freaking out that he's the cause of all these innocent people getting hurt. Oh, and don't try fire-breathing for a few days, either; without your power, that would be very very painful.

Dear Etri (the Darkness-Mage/fire-eater),
I really love you and your brother even if you aren't main characters. I'm going to be giving you guys a quest of your own so don't think I'll forget about you when the MCs leave. Until then, I think you're going to be dragged into a search by Blythe because you're a little better at sneaking into places in the dark than she is. (Speaking of, do you know that she's a girl? One minute I think you do and are just keeping this a secret, the next I think you're as clueless as everyone else.)

~Meri, your writer who is having way too much fun with this artist and carnival performer theme but who also wonders why you guys all seem to like fire so much