Thursday, December 20, 2012

Writing and crafting combine!

I'm still slowly making progress on my novel (it would help if the plot would stop changing every five minutes!), but one of the artsy things I've been working on this month is related to writing. I decided that since I hoard charms the way a dragon does treasure, I'd finally use some and make a charm bracelet based on "In the Cards". I'm really happy with how it turned out!

Writing Charm Bracelet

I'll explain why I used each charm below. (Sorry for the watermarks; I try to watermark everything I upload to flickr.)

Writing Charm Bracelet 3

(Felix, one of the animal sidekicks and technically a character in his own right)
-playing cards
(tarot cards are an important part of the story and key into the prophecy)
-a bird, boat, and blue bead dangle
(Piper. She's the shapeshifter who wears blue; her occupation has her protecting ships from bad weather, although that doesn't come into play much here)

Writing Charm Bracelet 2

-feather and orange bead
(Raff. These represent the feather in amber pendant he wears as his holy symbol)
(For Clover, obviously; she'll get something else to go with it later)
-arrow, heart with red and white beads, violin
(Seph. As a priest of Eros, arrows and hearts are par for the course, and red and white are the colors of his order. He plays the fiddle.)

Writing Charm Bracelet 4

-tooth and beads
(Tavin. The fang charm represents the natural [bone, stone, wood] weapons he carries (and also the fact that he's an orc. He has fangs, lol). He's a shaman who works with the elements; the four colors represent air, water, earth and fire)
-knight charm
(the tarot cards that represent all but Clover are knights)
-mouse and key
(Bip, Raff's pet mouse; she's good at finding keys)

The clasp is a heart with an arrow, so that's another Seph-related thing. I'll probably be squeezing in more charms as I unlock more plot points. (But please, don't let there be any more characters to unlock! I already have too many of those!) Now I'm itching to make bracelets for my other stories, too!


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Dear Writer (from Seph)

((Time for another letter from one of my current characters! Try to ignore his ill humor; he's not usually quite this bad, I promise.))

I should have known that you wouldn't let me just wash my hands of this mess and return to Zet. Now I'm caught in a prophecy that I shouldn't have been able to hear which doesn't even make much sense in a place I shouldn't be in the first place. I know (or at least think I know) what parts were about me and what parts were the annoying elf, but who are the other three people involved? If you're going to force me to eavesdrop, at least give me more information! Being told "your elf knows more than he lets on" isn't particularly helpful when he won't tell me anything. I am not one of your immoral Messengers, as similar as you seem to think I am; I'm not going to use mind control to get that out of him.

Besides, I think his god was on to something with the assumption that Raff will react angrily if he learns I've been recruited to keep him safe. If I try to ask what's up, he's going to suspect something and go on the offensive again. I'd rather not be punched in the jaw or tackled again, thank you. I know I can immediately heal, but that's not the point. I'm not the elf's keeper, his tamer, or his punching bag, which is what you and certain gods seem to want from me.

Speaking of, know what really gets me? You could have given some sort of warning that I was speaking with a god! A "Hey, Seph, keep your trap shut so you don't spill snark all over the conversation" would have sufficed. And since when can a deity speak to someone who isn't His own? I could understand if you'd had Eros "ask" for my help, but why Hermes? Is one headstrong elf enough to change the way things have always worked? What is really going on here? It's more than just having to keep him safe, particularly since three others apparently have to share our quest (whatever that is), isn't it? Something big is heading towards us. I don't need functioning eyes to be able to see that.

If it wouldn't be too terribly much trouble, perhaps you can give me a hint of what this is before it happens so I can keep my word and not, you know, let the elf get killed and have the wrath of an angry god fall on me. I'd prefer to avoid that type of ire at all costs and I'd rather not lose Raff if that can be prevented, either. (Shut it, Writer. It's just easier to get around when I travel with someone who can see.)

Unrelated to the rest of this, I want to add that I'm not happy with the addition of yet another pet. We don't need a bird. Are you trying to get us kicked out of the inn? I'm still not happy about that lie to get us there, by the way. In fact, I'm not happy about any of this. Gee, is that obvious?

~Your unamused Knight of Wands,

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Dear Characters (Part 4 of ?)

((Hooray! I hit 50k a day early! I still have about half the story to write, but I'm so happy that I "beat" NaNoWriMo my first time around! I'm aiming to finish the story by Christmas and get to at least 75k words. And whoops, I got tropes all over this entry, too.))

Dear Tavin, my missing Knight of Pentacles,
Umm... would you mind telling me where you went? Piper has caught up with the rest, but you don't seem to be anywhere in sight. Please tell me that the bear did not eat you. I knew that giving that particular animal to the elf as a pet was a bad idea...

Dear Piper, my dingbat Knight of Swords,
You need to learn some paranoia lessons from Tav! You get yourself caught in bird shape, then change back right in front of two strange men! (Okay, boys, really, although they are rather strange.) Granted they did just help you, but maybe a little caution would be a good thing? And no, the fox isn't going to eat you! Chill!

Dear Clover, the card I haven't picked yet,
Have you found your Get Out of Jail Free card yet? It's gotta be there somewhere. You really don't have to give two weeks' notice, you know. Just leave! We all know your boss sucks.

Dear Raff, my animal-loving Knight of Cups (wait, should I be calling you "Zaerin" now?),
Now look what befriending every animal in the world has gotten you: someone who's as talkative and friendly as you are. ... Actually, I'm digging this. You two need to keep talking so that you drive Seph up the wall. I enjoy that as much as you do!

Dear Seph, my defrosting ice Knight of Wands,
You have two friendly companions now. Snark all you want, they're not going away. If you can figure out where I left the orc, you'll find someone quiet to add to your team. I'd look where your elf parked the bear, as it's unlikely that Tav made his way into town and likely also tried to befriend it. He doesn't trust people much, so please keep your sarcasm to a minimum.
(And for the gods' sakes, denial much? You're going to wait until the last possible moment, aren't you? Because distracting the Idiot Hero right before the end is certainly a good idea. *headdesk*)

Dear everyone,
Well, we reached the 50k mark. And you still haven't set off for your quest. In fact, some of you don't even realize you have a quest. What gives? Your gods must be tapping their feet and looking at their watches with impatience. What kind of pawns are you? Sheesh.


Friday, November 23, 2012

My characters already have too many personality quirks...

Oh, gods, I got sucked into TV Tropes again thanks to a "Which TV Tropes Fit Your Characters?" thread in the NaNo forums. Let's see what I can come up with for my group of "heroes".

Raff, the fiery and mercurial half-elf Messenger (my Knight of Cups) - Chronic Hero Syndrome, Consulting Mister Puppet, Don't You Dare Pity Me!, Cute Bruiser, Beware the Nice Ones, Friend to All Living Things, The Beastmaster

Seph, the snarky, rather cocky human healer (Knight of Wands) - The Medic (Healing Hands), Jerkass Façade, Deadpan Snarker, Martial Pacifist, Hates Being Touched, Blind Seer (Monochromatic Eyes), Blind Without 'Em, Not So Stoic, Loony Friends Improve Your Personality

And between these two Vitriolic Best Buds. ("Just Friends", I swear?)

Piper, the brilliant but flighty human priestess (Knight of Swords) - Strange Girl, Ditzy Genius, Motor Mouth, Baleful Polymorph, Animorphism, The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body

Tavin, the levelheaded (usually...) and rather reclusive half-orc (Knight of Pentacles) - I Am What I Am, Don't Look at Me, Ugly Cute, Human Pack Mule, Genius Bruiser, Gentle Giant, Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?

And Clover, halfling prophetess who kind of walked into her own cage - Signed Up For the Dental, Dismotivation, Wildcard, Fortune Teller, Screw This, I'm Outta Here, Eleventh Hour Ranger, Spot the Imposter


Friday, November 16, 2012

Dear Characters (Part 3 of ?)

((I just passed the 30,000 words mark, so I guess it's time for me to write to my characters again! There isn't anything I feel particularly bad about right now since all seem to be moving along towards the plot, so no yelling at anyone *cough*Seph*cough* this time.))

Dear Tavin, my paranoid Knight of Pentacles,
See, I told you she wouldn't mind! Now please get your jaw off the floor, get over your shock, and head home so I can send you off again.

Dear Piper, my helpful Knight of Swords,
Thank you for being you. He needed to hear that! Now please fly off already so we can move along.

Dear Clover, my whatever card you are,
Yeah, yeah, I know I've been ignoring you. That's intentional; since you're my prophet, I can't write what you see until I know what you see. Please be patient until the bird and the orc catch up. Play a game of Solitaire or something.

Dear Seph, my moody Knight of Wands,
I want to thank you, too. You're finally where I needed you to go! Hooray! Now please get to work on the elf's concussion and I give you permission to tie him to a rock until he lets that shoulder wound heal. I agree: he is a terrible patient.

Dear Raff, my exhausted Knight of Cups,
See, we told you that help was coming. Now please sit still for five minutes so you can stop blacking out! And I'm going to hold you to that promise of a banquet for your mouse; I already promised her fifty different kinds of cheeses.

Oh, and to everyone but Piper:
Can one of you guys please invent sunglasses? Or something? I've never seen so many characters in one place who can sense heat and all of you keep getting blinded by this! Come on, I mean at least two of you have gotten headaches from this so far. Learn, people, learn! If you're nice to Piper, I'm sure she'll let you travel by night so two of you don't end up with migraines again and fall into a pit or something. Sheesh.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Dear Characters (Part 2 of ?)

((After two more days of writing, it's time to write to my characters again! This time they're not getting an apology. Characters, you can all blame Seph; he's starting to get on my nerves. You were supposed to be the easy one to write!))

Dear Raff, my Knight of Cups,
I know you're hurt, woozy, scared, and angry, but please try not to go into one of your berserker rages when you feel someone try to untie you. ...Wait, scratch that. Go into that the next time you're unblindfolded because I want to see you kick some butt. However, the following time, please don't. That's your rescuer and he's already in a bad mood. (Although I want to throw a few punches at him right now...)

Dear Clover, my High Priestess (possibly; I still can't find a good card for you),
You got yourself into this mess, so stop complaining that your sleep is being interrupted by prophetic dreams. You're a prophetess and should be used to it by now.

Dear Piper, my Knight of Swords,
I know you like to talk, but slow down a little. Your new friend is feeling rather overwhelmed.

Dear Tavin, my Knight of Pentacles,
You can trust her. Really. You're not going to like the news that she brings back to you, though, but she'll help you.

Dear Seph, my Knight of Wands,
Arg, can you PLEASE just get where I need you to go? The rest are in place and you're dragging your feet. You have two gods pushing you along, a divine canine sidekick, and soon a mouse with a key. Do you get the hint yet that you're needed as a hero? And please remember to duck; your elf doesn't often miss.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Writing to my characters (Part 1 of ?)

((The NaNoWriMo forums are far too distracting! Today I found a thread called "Apologizing to your characters for the horrible things you do to them", which is sort of reverse to the "Dear Writer" that I posted yesterday. After the quirks, fears, and situations I've already thrown at them in the first 10k words, I needed this idea. Here are the two apologies for now.)

Dear Tavin, my sturdy and gentle Knight of Pentacles,
I'm so so sorry that I had to kill your parents off. You had the best family that I've ever written and I know you loved them very much. I know I took them away too soon and now you don't have a clear memory of them anymore. I'm sorry I gave you that intense fear of fire. And I'm sorry I'm about to kill off your foster-father. You know he's old and very sick and doesn't have much time left, so hopefully this won't bother you too much. It will be okay, I promise- you'll be meeting up with others who will also love you for who you are and be able to see past the fact that you're kinda green and have pointy teeth. That bird that's flying overhead? She'll love you most. (And she's not really a bird.)
~Meri, the writer who really does like orcs (I swear!)


Dear Raff, my brave and loving Knight of Cups (although a Page of Swords at the moment),
Oh gods, how can I even begin to apologize for the things I'm putting you through? I'm so sorry I got you cornered, hurt, and captured. I'm so sorry that you think your brother-by-oath is dead. I'm so sorry that you lost contact with your god. I'm so sorry that I'm going to have you bound in a prison cell while the crazy mage tries to pull information from your head. I'm so sorry that said crazy mage wants to play with you. I'm so sorry that you're the youngest and I'm putting you through the worst. I'm so sorry that I'm giving you your Greatest Fear, but you'll be okay. Your rescue party will be there soon. Stay strong, my elf-boy.
~Meri, the other elven Cups (and as sadistic as I seem right now, I'm not one of those elves)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Dear Writer (from Raff)

((I found a thread in the NaNo forums where the characters write letter to their authors. I always love this kind of thing, so I'm going to be doing that while I write my next story. Here's the first one; Raff pushed past the others to go first. Surprise.))

(Not so) Dear Meri,
Aren't I supposed t'be your favorite? Ye always say I am! But the other four "heroes" (why are there five of us, anyway? Couldn't ye decide which was main?) got nice and calm introduction chapters but ye change narratives jus' in time for me. Aye, ye start me off okay, giving me a friend t'joke with and my pet mouse, letting me think everything's going t'be peachy, then immediately ye take that away! Now I'm captured and ye still have no idea how t'get the blind guy t'me so I can get rescued! Are ye throwing another random divine fox in? Where do ye keep getting those things, anyway? Hermes' Plot Contrivance Outlet and Fox Exchange?

And another thing. What's with that creepy guy pokin' at me? Ye KNOW I don't like my ears touched! If he does it again, I swear he's gonna lose that hand.

I did like how ye had me fight like a cornered cat t'keep my brother safe, but ye knew I wouldn't have a chance once ye realized those weird elves were bigger'n me. Let me at 'em one more time and maybe I'll forgive ye for letting me be caught. Maybe.

~Your spitfire Knight of Cups,

Monday, November 5, 2012

Working on a new story (and cover art!)

Wow, it's been a long time without an update here, huh? I have been working on writing, though! During a crazy few months (psst: I'm a married elf-girl now!), I've been jotting down ideas for my story. October was spent teaching myself tarot and doing research on things from seabirds to blindness (although in hindsight, I also needed to learn about horses, wagons, and boats too).

And November? Time for NaNoWriMo! I decided to try National Novel Writing Month for the first time ever and as of early on day 5, I'm at almost 7k words and am finally hitting some Plot. This is my longest writing challenge yet since Hidden Magic and The Acoylte's Map got me around 22k and 23k respectively over the course of about three months; now I'm trying for 50k in one month. Fingers crossed I can do that!

Since I'm an artist and need to always be making things with my hands (seriously, it's like some sort of a curse of constant activity), I decided that I wanted to make objects that are important to the characters in my story. This week I made the first: a green tarot bag like the one Clover, my halfling prophetess, carries. I finally figured out a title this week, too (yay! I stink at titles; previous stories had been "Meren's Story" and "Raff's Story" until they were finished and I bummed names off family and friends) so now that I had that and a tarot set similar to Clover's, I made a cover for my story yesterday:

In the Cards- cover for my NaNo

Tarot plays an important roll so that was what I decided on for the cover. I may make a new one later, once I make the objects owned by all the protagonists, and have those with the tarot cards. (And there's a reason for the picked cards being a set of Knights; that wasn't picked arbitrarily!)

Here's a better view of the pouch. I'm so glad I had this shamrock fabric in my art supplies stash since it works great for someone named "Clover"!

Green Shamrock Tarot Bag - closed

This story is going to need a lot of editing once it's done (I've never written without obsessive amounts of editing at the same time before, but those are the rules!), but eventually I'll share it here. :)


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A look inside my writing process

After months of mostly ignoring my writing muse (technically that's Cyn, but he kind of shares that duty with the rest), I've finally had a chance to really start working on my next big story and boy do I have grand ideas for this one! And timelines. Oh goodness, do I have timelines. This post is going to be a sneak peek of what exactly goes on in my writing notebook while I'm in the "planning" stage of a story.

First up is timelines. Lots of timelines. I think I spent two hours with a calculator just trying to fill in this much and if you know me, you know math is my nemesis. You can click if you want to see the pictures bigger.

Here's a closeup of that top line:

Eventually the big/world events will go on the bottom, personal ones on that top line, mixture in the middle.

Also notes. Pages and pages of notes. In the case of this story, designing and refining five priesthoods and/or deities, as well as the normal plot and character development:

In this picture you can see me organizing Hermes' priesthood above ideas for this story, starting to develop Tavin (everyone, say "hi" to one of the new guys!), and designing from scratch the priesthood of Eros.

And then there are maps... which I haven't perfected enough to share yet. So trust me on this one, I guess!

You may be looking at the notes going "Who the heck are these characters?". It's probably best not to ask, but assuming anyone is reading this and got this far, here's a peek at the four newbies who get to share the spotlight with Raff in this one:
~From far, far north on the northern continent, I'm bringing in Piper, avian priestess of Gale (god of the winds and sailors), who has spent the past few years protecting ships traveling from island to island and coast to coast.
~The next furthest traveler is Seph, a blind priest from an island nation to the north-east; he's the other of the old (Greek-themed) pantheon, being a follower of Eros. He's not as blind as one might think, though; despite that blindfold he wears to cover his odd eyes, he sees what's really there...
~Unsure of where he came from originally, being a foundling raised by a human hermit, the silent one of this group is Tavin, a half-orc. He's not a priest, per se, but that hermit did teach him the ways of the shaman- unfortunately what he didn't learn was how to really interact with people.
~Tying everyone together is Clover, halfling prophetess from the south. Not a gypsy, I swear. All those bells and coins are her magic symbols (or so she says...) and that isn't a Deck of Many Things that she carries- that's her tarot deck, allowing her to see what the future may bring. (When it works.)

I'm thinking I may write something short to move Seph over to where he needs to be, so likely the next writing I post will be only about him- and one of my Messengers who doesn't have her own story yet. If I can get him where he needs to go, this'll be my next story update. :)


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Some questions for the protagonists...

((The Dungeon Master of the game Cyn is from gave us a few questions to ponder; I liked this, so I think I'll answer it as my four current protagonists. Obviously it's entirely unlikely that all four will ever be in the same place at the same time, so suspension of disbelief here. ;) This is post-Acolyte's Map and Hidden Magic, as well as after Cyn's encounter with evil.))

A guardian stands before you and says, "You must leave everything behind to pass, except for one item." What do you take with you? (Assume he will let you keep any non-magical clothing you are wearing. Treat a suit of armor, or something similarly bulky, as one item.)

Meren: "Easy this one is. My bow. Although without my quiver, useless the bow would be. My spellbook, perhaps?"

Phillip: "Yeah, I agree on the spellbook. If I can't constantly have Illusion magic at the ready, I'd be in deep trouble. I wonder if I can sneak my mask in under my robe so I can have that, too... Elf-girl, distract the guardian for a minute, would you?"

Meren: "Sigh. One thing only, Phillip. Just the book bring."

Phillip: "Fine, fine."

Cyn: "Does non-magical jewelry count as clothing? I need to have my amber on me at all times, but I have another piece of jewelry that means almost as much to me that isn't in any way magical. If the guardian won't let me take that one as well, I'll Charm him into allowing me to do so. If that doesn't work, forget it, I'm finding a different route that will allow me to bring both as I refuse to leave either behind."

Raff: "Uh. Well, Cyn beat me t'answering that one, so ditto."

Meren: "The only one the rules following am I?"

Raff: "Rules are overrated. Hey, if I give sad puppy eyes can I keep my mouse, too? ... oh, what am I saying, my animals can just follow me."

Cyn: "Why did I not think of that? I left my fox behind; while your animal entourage is passing through, can you herd Loxie along with the rest?"

Raff: "You named your fox Loxie? Foxie Loxie?" *snickers*

Cyn: "Said the elf who keeps naming mice after food products."

Raff: "I did that once, okay, maybe twice, but-"

Meren: "Bickering would you two stop, please? Some of us places have to be. Next question, if answer it correctly you three will?"

The crooked stranger before you opens the door and bids you enter. "Behind this door, you must battle your worst fear." What's in the room beyond?

Meren: "-Second thought on, continue bickering. That door past, wish to go I do not! Behind the door is behind the door: a room. Underground. Walls, always walls, no light! No trees! Dank air! Leave the room, I cannot and smaller it gets! Walls- why a door through did my fear have to be??"

Raff: "Woah, woah, calm down! You're not even in the room yet. Why don't you go outside and breathe and we'll finish these questions up?"

Phillip: "Yes, please do. My answer is going to make you even more twitchy since it's-"

Meren: *twitch twitch flee*

Phillip: "-Undead. Ranks of the nasty buggers, all sent after me, looking at me with empty eyes, teeth clattering, skeletal claws... can I follow Meer? If it's all the same, I'd rather not go through that door."

Cyn: "Fat chance. We don't wish to go through that particular door, either."

Phillip: *grumble grumble twitch*

Cyn: "There, see, not so bad. This is theoretical, not actual. For my answer... well, Raff, I hope I'd be able to see you on the other side, but that is rather doubtful considering what would be through there."

Raff: "What do y'mean?"

Cyn: "In that room I would be alone. My fear is being unable to reach our god and losing that inner divine connection- and in turn being exiled forever from our brethren, the people who have become my family. Being excommunicated, forsaken and unloved is my biggest fear."

Raff: "Ouch. Aye, that does sound absolutely horrible! Losing our Calling would be bad and I wouldn't handle that well, either, but-"

Cyn: "You have never truly been alone, so you would not know it well enough to fear it as greatly as others could."

Phillip: *mutters under his breath* "Hear hear."

Raff: "Exactly. So behind that door isn't isolation, but something more like Meren's. It's helplessness. Being weak, vulnerable, useless, not able to protect myself, the messages I carry or those who need my help. It's being taken advantage of and being powerless t'do anything about it. Been there, don't wanta face it again. Can we all just pick a different door instead? Next question, please."

As you rub the lamp, a genie appears! "I am in your debt! I shall grant you one wish." What do you ask him for?
Raff: "That's better. But is there anything I want? Hmm..."

Meren: *shouts from a distance* "This blasted claustrophobia lose I would like!"

Raff: "Aye, fixing the previous problem would be nice. I'd wish t'not be underestimated and if I am put in a situation where I'm treated like an easy target, I can get myself out of it quickly. Would that work as a wish? Should I simplify it and say I always want my wits, my weapons and my magic? How about you guys? Wishing t'cancel the skeletons and potential loneliness?"

Phillip: "Look at me, elf. Do you really think I'd miss an opportunity to be normal again? In case you haven't noticed, I'm purple."

Raff: "For all I know, that is normal. Meren's green."

Phillip: *eyeroll* "Of course purple isn't. My wish would be to look the way I used to. If I appeared normal, I wouldn't need to rely on magic and costumes to cover the fact that I'm marred and could concentrate my magic elsewhere."

Raff: *shakes his head* You're talking to the wrong people. We like disguises and being odd. Right, Cyn?"

Cyn: "Somewhat. You take it to an extreme, Greeneyes. However, no, my wish wouldn't involve my fear. I'm having trouble deciding which desire I'd ask for, though: A longer lifespan, being able to get along better with people, or for all evil priests to be gone forever and never turn up again."

Raff: "Geez, you don't aim for small, do ye?"

Cyn: "This is offering us anything. Well, with enough practice, I could possibly eventually get better at dealing with people, so wishing for that may be a waste. The third... that could have repercussions that might turn out negative because it is such a far-reaching wish- and it's too violent, too much like a type of genocide. In wanting to do Good, the action would end up decidedly not Good. Eliminating the Evil priests would eliminate their gods, or at least make them far weaker, which is good in theory, but what if that made the Good priesthoods too powerful and caused clashes within that alignment? Hermes and His Messengers would be caught in the middle since we do not take sides or strive for power."

Phillip: "That roundabout theorizing is giving me a headache."

Raff: *grins* "You'll get used to it. He's always like this. But you do think too much, Cyn. I can't see how getting rid of bad could be bad."

Cyn: "Perhaps not, but I'd rather not risk it. The first wish would probably be the best of the three as it would not effect my ability to be a Messenger and would not have any sort of influence on anyone else. It certainly couldn't harm anything, which undoubtedly makes it the most appealing of my options."

Raff: "And I can't say I'd dislike that one, but I still think getting rid of evil would be a good thing."

Cyn: "Then you should have wished for it."

Raff: "Guess we need t'find a second magic lamp!"

Phillip: "Whatever. I'm going to go try to break Meren from that claustrophobic crazy fit. Again. Freak rescuing the odd, as usual."

((If you're wondering why Meren sounds so odd, she's finally learned Common, the language the other three speak, but she's not very good at it yet. Meanwhile Raff's accent has slipped into the heavier version he picks up when he has no reason to hide it- and speaking of Raff, I'm working on a story where I get to throw his fear at him. Mwahaha!))

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Another costume adventure! Half-elf fun time

The year has finally spun back to warm weather and green plants, so my best friend and I decided to do a costume photoshoot yesterday. Luckily I had never bothered to put away one of my costumes after the renfaire last fall, so I threw on those greens and browns, glued on some pointy ears, grabbed my mouse plushie and was ready to go out in public as Raff.

Half-elf cosplay/costume

Half-elf cosplay/costume

Half-elf cosplay/costume

Half-elf cosplay/costume

Half-elf cosplay/costume

I made the green tunic, brown cloak, mouse plushie, belt pouch, and green and gold necklace (one of my friends made the amber one for me). Here's a closeup of some of those things:
Costume stuff 10/3

I do have to say that this is the simplest costume I have; the brown shirt and pants are actually ones I got from department stores years ago (although I've teastained the shirt from the white it started) and my elf boots have made their way into my regular wardrobe. Without the ears (and without the extra tunic and cloak), that means Raff could almost pass as normal. ;) I'm still planning on making his Messenger robe, but haven't had a chance to do that yet, so I figured Raff in his off-duty clothing would be almost as good. At least without a robe, I didn't get tangled in any plant life as we roamed the woods- the same can't be said for my dwarven viking adventure companion and her skirts. Mwahaha.

And it can't be a photoshoot without goofiness! We took quite a few of those, but these are my favorites. First, Rhy climbed onto my head:

Then he got some (rather creepy) ear scratches from the viking girl:

Before deciding to hide someplace:

And while my mouse was off visiting vikings, this is what happens when said best friend tells an elf to make a funny face:

Well, if there's one thing I can say about Raff, he will never claim to be sane. I think I have that craziness down, too. ;)


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Art of my unlucky wizard

Unlucky, but I still like him. ;) Phillip is the main antagonist/protagonist/friend/foe in Meren's story, "Hidden Magic". I created a bio page for him, but I'll be adding the detailed character description later.

Anyway, this is an art post so onto the art!

Have I mentioned before that I love artsy presents? My very favorite kinds of gifts are handmade so it always makes my day when someone makes something for me. For Christmas my friend Niere (ya know, the super-talented girl who draws me the awesome character art I use on my blog?) offered to draw me something. I decided on Phillip since he's rapidly becoming a protagonist in his own right. I think she did a great job!

With him, I didn't have a clear mental picture of what he looks like. I can picture him now, as he looks after "Hidden Magic" and the magical mishaps, but couldn't picture him when he still looked normal, which was the art I wanted since my writing mostly takes place in his past. This is where it helps to have a talented artist friend; now I know what he looks like. ;)

When I gave Niere his physical description I realized, though, how similar in coloration he is to Cyneric and his brother. This turns out to not be a mistake; now I know where Cyn's family originated from and, in a weird, roundabout way, it gives me a heritage and extra background for a character I thought I'd developed fully. That's neat! (Or, as my fiancé says, he's "Evil Cyneric". Sigh. I can't seem to convince him that Phillip isn't actually evil.)

And I suppose here be spoilers if you haven't finished "Hidden Magic".

You've been warned. ;)

I made a plushie of Phillip during the summer that I haven't shared yet, but it's him post-"Hidden Magic", hence the spoiler warning. Here's that:
Phillip doll - D&D wizard

Phillip doll - D&D wizard

I'd thought about making him "normal", but I think the fact that I didn't have to give him hair in purple form was what decided me. That's always a step that takes forever!

Phillip does have something going for him, though. Despite absolutely hating the fact that he's now purple, not all hope is lost. He is an Illusionist so he can technically appear however he chooses... for as long as the spell remains active, anyway! Still, he wants to go back to being normal again, so we'll see. ;)

I'll be writing more about Phillip later this year; I'll be co-writing a story with my elf sister that tells of his past and his experience being apprenticed to a wizard who became an evil necromancer. Poor Phillip. He has to be the most unfortunate character I've ever written and that's some stiff competition!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Hidden Magic - Story, Part 10

Banner art by JackOfClubs (jack_spire on livejournal).
You can find the whole cover art here- JoC did a great job on it!
There's also a great mix/soundtrack that goes with this story- you can find that here.

Hidden Magic, Part 10
(Prologue, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3,
Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9)

Meren continued south in a much better mood than she had been in. She would learn and do so quickly. She would get by fine without her brother's help. Now if only that mage turned out to be someone inclined to help a strange vagabond elf. Her smile faded as a thought occurred to her: what if the mage doesn't speak a language I do? This gave Meren a few minutes of panic before she recalled that her father had said it was a halfling village, as well. Even if the mage was not a halfling, someone there would be able to speak with her and point her in the right direction.

This conundrum solved, Meren traveled on almost cheerfully. It was a cool night, the moon was bright enough to see by, her brother would be safe with his own kin soon, there was the sensation of something brushing her arm... She jumped, yanking her arm away and twisting around to her right. Nothing was there. What the... She looked from side to side, but there were no trees this close to the river and her elven infravision wasn't picking up the glow of anything living in the area, either. When she felt it again, she almost let out a shriek and only years of training for silent scouting kept her from doing so.

Her heartbeat didn't slow until she heard a hoarse voice whisper near her ear. "Calm down, elf-girl. It's just me."

"Phillip? How? Where are-" she began to ask, then mentally chided herself. Magic, of course. "So that's how you got away from the clearing. I'm seriously beginning to think that you're following me around, you know."

"I think not… Alright, so this time I may have been." Now that she was paying attention to the spot to her right, she could see vapor rising about a foot above her head as he spoke. Guess he's still stuck with that, she observed as he added, "And I... er... did follow you back to your home."

"You did what?" Meren exclaimed, turning to glare at the spot she now knew him to be. "How many times do I have to tell you to leave the area? And could you please just make yourself visible again? I feel like an idiot talking to a cloud of smoke."

She heard Phillip mutter something under his breath, then he reappeared looking rather sheepish and from what Meren could tell through her night vision, still somewhat discolored. "Six, I would guess. But before you say anything else, you didn't seem too upset when I knocked out those orcs and put out that fire."

"So that's what happened? I should have known," Meren tried to glare at him, but found that she couldn't and felt dangerously close to smiling at the annoying human. "I suppose I should say thank you."

"Always a pleasure to help a woman in need," he replied with a smirk. Meren snorted, which didn't seem to take away his strange good mood. After a moment, however, he turned serious again. "If you don't mind me asking, elf-girl, what happened back in your … town? Encampment? Whatever it's called? Why are you going south and the centaur back into the forest?"

Well, there goes my good mood, she thought. But what was the harm in telling him? He'd probably just tag along, annoying her longer if she didn't. "East. I'm only going south until I can cross the river. My kin learned of my magic- thank you for throwing yours in there because they now think I have even more than I actually do, by the way- and they sent me off to some sort of mage in a town to the east. Kryro is going north to find his kin." There, that was vague enough, right?

Phillip's dark eyebrows wrinkled. "A mage? But I'd thought you were already trained."

Meren stared at him blankly. Why would he think that? "No, never. I can do magic, but my father thinks that a mage can help me not set things on fire."

The human shook his head slowly and gave a short, low whistle. Finally he said, "Hearing that, you do need to find a master. If you can do magic like that on your own, setting the forest on fire may be the least of your worries, Meren."

Being called by her real name for once made the elf realize that the man was serious, but a statement like that was downright terrifying when she'd already been fretting about her lack of control. Phillip tugged at the frayed hem of his sleeve and Meren got the impression that he was thinking hard about something. After a minute or two, he said, "I didn't mean to frighten you, only to give a warning. Just make sure the mage you find is a good one. I don't mean good as in 'competent'... well, I do, I suppose, but what I meant was someone who is a good person." His raspy voice grew quieter as he added, "Believe me, this is important."

As he spoke this, Meren recalled his earlier paranoia. She nodded; clearly he was trying to warn her away from his experience, whatever it was. "I will. But where are you going? More … things aren't following you, are they?"

He stared at the staff in his hand, studying it for a few moments, then glanced behind him. The wood elf was about to ask her question again when he answered softly, "I hope none are. And I don't know. I was going west, but how can I go home looking like this?"

"Wouldn't that be the best time to go home?" When the man looked down at her, confusion evident on his purple face, she explained, "If they're your kin, they won't mind who you are."

"As yours so readily accepted you?" His hoarse voice was bitter, but Meren didn't think he was actually directing that sharpness at her.

The wood elf frowned as she realized that he had a point. A rather good one, actually. "Alright, bad example, but you have to go somewhere you can be safe for a while." After saying so, she realized that she meant it. Despite the human's irksome tendencies, she truly didn't want those horrible things coming after him again. Drat. Chalk it up to that healer nature, she mused to herself.

An idea occurred to her: I don't really need this and I think it has something to do with magic... She reached into her pouch where she'd stuck the pendant earlier that day and pulled it out by the chain. "Here, take it back," she said simply, holding out her vine-patterned hand.

Phillip stared at the slightly luminous purple object for a long moment, then shook his head. He looked down at Meren and in the dim light she saw in his dark eyes an emotion she couldn't quite read. Is that concern? Before she could figure it out, though, he looked away again, but took her free hand in his for just a moment. "Take it with you, elf-girl. If the master you find is worthy, show it to him. It may help you. Otherwise, keep it a secret."

Meren could only nod dumbly, completely bewildered by his words and actions. This was the same person who had been a thorn in her side for years? Why was he being so helpful? Seemingly satisfied by her mute agreement, Phillip gave her a small smile. "Good. Stay safe, Meren."

His words echoing those spoken so recently by her brother left Meren even more speechless, and it wasn't until he'd walked out of sight westwards that she realized that she hadn't asked him why exactly he'd turned purple in the first place. As she walked across the stone bridge, she shook her head. If you couldn't trust your own curiosity, what could you trust? She couldn't help smiling to herself as she mentally answered her own question: spells to frequently be chaotic, a brother who always wanted to protect you and a human wizard to be dependably unpredictable. Now if only she could get that first one to function properly and the last two to realize that she could perfectly well take care of herself...

The End

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hidden Magic - Story, Part 9

Banner art by JackOfClubs (jack_spire on livejournal).
You can find the whole cover art here- JoC did a great job on it!
There's also a great mix/soundtrack that goes with this story- you can find that here.

Hidden Magic, Part 9
(Prologue, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3,
Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 10)

The young wood elf was broken out of this reverie by a shouted "What did you just do?" right behind her. Meren yelped and almost dropped her bow. Turning around, she saw the scout leader standing with her hands on her hips. Behind her was Eryndir and Meren wondered how much he'd seen.

The young elf was torn. Did she explain or deny what she'd done? Maybe she could pass the globes of light off as swamp gas... in the middle of temperate woodland. And the fiery attack she'd thrown... Meren cursed silently under her breath. There just wasn't a lie that could work to explain this away. As she begun to stammer an answer, her father spoke quietly but confidently, "That was magic, was it not, Meren?"

Knowing she had no other choice but the truth here, she could only nod. Tawarthel stepped back, her brown eyes narrow. "Magic, Eryndir? But the shaman should have caught any arcane potential-"

Eryndir locked eyes with his daughter who looked down at her feet. "Not necessarily," he answered, not looking away from his daughter, "Not if Meren's is a different sort."

"A different sort? How can there be a different sort?" the scout leader eyed Meren as though the young elf was something repugnant, "Unless her mother..."

"Was simply a healer," Eryndir quickly finished, clearly trying to nip that thought process in the bud, much to Meren's relief. He then asked the young elf, "But why did you not tell?"

Meren's answer was to glance over at Tawarthel. "Because of that reaction. I know elves shouldn't be able to do what I can."

The older woman crossed her arms over her chest. "See? She admits it. Eryndir, you must send her away. We cannot have that kind of magic being hurled around, alerting outsiders to our location and setting our home on fire."

Meren had been about to retort that that kind of thing hadn't happened before when her brother stuck his hoof into his mouth instead. "She did not mean to do that, sir," he directed at Eryndir, "She has never done anything harmful to the woods before."

Except for that time I created a pit, Meren thought to herself as the two elders turned their attention to the centaur, who shied backwards at their mutual stare. "You knew of this ability?" the scout leader demanded, putting an emphasis of contempt on the last word.

Now Kryro seemed to realize his mistake and opened and closed his mouth a few times before speaking again. "... Yes? I thought it would be better not to share that knowledge..."

Eryndir did not look happy, but Meren thought she saw more disappointment than anger on his face. "Meren, Tawarthel is right." The scout leader smirked at this as he added, "We cannot have you hurling fire around, even if you were able to put it out again." For a moment, Meren thought of explaining that she hadn't in fact done as much, but quickly realized that explaining that she had no idea how the fire had diminished would do little to help her case.

"I would not allow an untrained archer who knows not how to aim to scout, so a mage destroying our trees I cannot allow here, even if she is my daughter," he continued. Meren could feel her face turn white, as though all the blood in her body was draining into her overly large feet. This rose slightly when his next words were, "No, not forever, Meren; just until you have what you wield under control. There is a village of halflings and humans to the east where I know a wizard resides. You must go to her and see if she can help."

As Meren tried to make sense of the fact that it sounded as though she were being exiled, the tribe leader spoke to Kryro, "I need you to alert your tribe that there may still be intruders in the area. Go with Meren as far as the river, then find your kin. Likely they shall need your aid more than we at the moment."

The young scouts both bowed their heads in acknowledgment, but neither were pleased about the tasks set before them. We are his kin, Meren thought to herself as they walked to her tent to retrieve the rest of her scant belongings, and he's a warrior, not some errand boy.

The centaur remained oddly silent until they were a few miles away from camp. Finally, as they were weaving their way through the last outskirts of trees, he spoke up again, "I am sorry I said that, Meer. Perhaps if I had kept my mouth shut, you would have been able to stay."

Meren shook her head. "I don't think that would have made a difference. Even if I'd been allowed to stay, Tawarthel would have found a way to convince my father that I was a danger and I would have been sent off anyway."

"You do not know that-" the centaur began.

"Even if not, they do have a point, as much as I hate to admit it. I am a danger, 'Ro." When she saw her brother shake his head and look about to interrupt, she continued, "I am. Sometimes my spells work but when they don't, they really don't... and the thought of burning through my home has me terrified."

"Why worry of that? You stopped the fire before it could spread," he pointed out.

Meren looked down at her hands, then let them fall to her sides. "No. I didn't. The fire did go out, but that wasn't from me. I couldn't even cancel the lights I accidentally placed above camp. Even if some spells do work, I don't know enough of how to stop them if they get out of control. I am a threat, 'Ro."

Kryro still didn't look convinced. "But with even the magic you have, it could be used to protect the camp. No one else can throw jets of flame at an enemy."

Meren sighed; for all that the centaur had been uncomfortable with her new skill to start, he was now the one always pushing her to use it, but he couldn't know what it was like to have that sort of wild power... "That's actually fortunate. Trust me, this is for the better. If that mage my father spoke of can help me get this under control, then I can come back and use it to guard."

"And if she cannot? What will you do then?"

"Leave and find another mage who can help." The look on her brother's face made her heart sink into her stomach. He was clearly worried about her and if she was any judge of the person she knew best, he was beating himself up inside for not being able to help her out of this dilemma.

She looked up at him, meeting his eyes. How could she convince him when she was somewhat worried herself? "I'll be fine. I promise. If this town doesn't work out, I'll come find you and you can help me locate a different mage, okay?"

The centaur looked as though he was going to complain about this plan, but finally just nodded slowly. Meren thought for a moment that she'd accidentally set off that mind control spell again, but the lack of energy surging through her hands disproved that. No, he just trusted her, which was a far better reason, but if anything it left her feeling even worse.

The two continued on in thoughtful silence until they'd reached the water. In the dim moonlight Meren couldn't see the bridge spanning the Moon River, but knew it to be just south of where they stood, having frequently used it to reach the woodlands on the other side. "Go on, 'Ro. You need to spread word like my father asked."

The centaur remained still for a moment, making her wonder if he was going to demand she let him follow her, but eventually he said, "Alright. I still do not like this, but I seem to be outnumbered in this decision." He reached down to squeeze Meren's shoulder. "Stay safe, Meer. And when you reach that mage, please do try to not hurl fire around too much. She may be more inclined to help if her home is not burned to the ground."

He spoke those words seriously, but Meren knew when he was teasing her. She stuck her tongue out at him then smiled, "Oh, alright. If you insist. I'll stick with the boring magic. Maybe I can find a way to summon butterflies instead."

Kryro smiled back at her, then after another squeeze to the elf's shoulder, turned and trotted off to the north.

The next part can be found here.