Chatting · Reading Recs

Book Review: The Steampunk User’s Manual

Synopsis: Steampunk, the retro-futuristic cultural movement, has become a substantial and permanent genre in the worlds of fantasy and science fiction. A large part of its appeal is that, at its core, Steampunk is about doing it yourself: building on the past while also innovating and creating something original. VanderMeer’s latest book offers practical and inspirational guidance for readers to find their individual path into this realm. Including sections on art, fashion, architecture, crafts, music, performance, and storytelling, The Steampunk User’s Manual provides a conceptual how-to guide that motivates and awes both the armchair enthusiast and the committed creator. Examples range from the utterly doable to the completely over-the-top, encouraging participation and imagination at all levels.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars – Not what’s advertised, but still a good read.

I picked up this book at a Renaissance fair, in preparation for running a Treasure Planet inspired DnD Planescape campaign. I was hoping for a history of the steampunk genre and a primer on the main tropes, cliches, and foundational works of the movement. As an engineer who works at a maker space. I was also hoping it would live up to its self-proclaimed title as a “how-to guide” full of projects. Shame on me for not reading it more thoroughly in the shop, but I flipped through the pages full of bright, glossy photographs, and marched to the front counter without a second thought.

Don’t get me wrong – this book partially covers those topics, and I quite enjoyed those parts. But this book, in truth, is a collection of interviews with artists, musicians, authors, performers, and costumers talking about their craft and their relationship to the concept of “steampunk.” You can learn a lot from reading about their process and if a certain piece of work catches your eye, you can check out their work to learn more. It’s a convenient multimedia collection, best suited for a coffee table, not a textbook.

That being said, this is a delightful picture book full of oddities and curiosities of all kinds and I had a really fun time reading through it all the same. The most interesting aspect of the “steampunk” genre, at least to me, is the broad spectrum of opinions regarding “practicality.” On one hand, it’s an aesthetic, with form prioritized over function, and the look attracts many people to the subculture. It’s supposed to be fun and undermine convention, and if it’s impractical, then that’s all the better, right? But it’s also inspired by real steam-powered technology, and vintage sci-fi dreams of submarines and airships. Aren’t the glued-on gears a cliche, completely defeating the purpose of moving, ticking, living clockwork? Or is the stationary adhesive saying something profound about societal systems? It’s an interesting question I hadn’t really considered before, and while my intro can probably tell you which side of the isle I fall on (as I slowly push the “science is art and art is science and both are magic” soapbox away), I still appreciated the opportunity to read the alternative perspectives.

The book is separated into chapters based loosely on artistic medium: Art and Making; Fashion, Architecture, and Interiors; Storytelling; and Music and Performance. Each chapter has sections on finding inspiration with tips from creators of that type, various interviews, advice on developing your skills, a DIY project or two, and some essays on the philosophy of Steampunk. You do not need to read these in order or in their completeness to enjoy the book, but as a whole, it gives a comprehensive summary of the current genre as it existed in 2014 when the book was published. I would be curious to see a 2nd edition, talking about how the genre has developed in almost a decade. When I was 13, my parents still used flip phones, and I was strictly forbidden from touching social media, except educational YouTube videos. I can only imagine how much the boom of the internet has changed the community, with creators being able to make a living for themselves from Instagram, self-publishing breaking down the gatekeepers in the literary world, and the pandemic fundamentally shaking up how live performances were done. I am also curious to see how the themes of steampunk have reacted to current and developing issues of digital privacy and the pervasive role that technology plays in our world today, especially in the Zoomer generation.

All in all, I’m glad I read this, and it informed me about a genre I’ve been interested in exploring for quite a while. If nothing elese, it’s a fantastic well of inspiration for interesting tangents and trains of thought.


Thanks for reading! Are you involved in the Steampunk Community? What are your thoughts? I want this blog to be more than me shouting into the void. If I can use this platform to help boost other creators, I’d love to see your work too. If you want to have your recommendations and/or your own writing featured in a Resource Rec post, or if you want to collaborate with me, you can leave a comment below for both, or contact me on either tumblr or IG! If you feel so generously inclined, you can support my writing by leaving me a tip or buying stickers on my Kofi. Until next time, thanks for reading and happy writing!

Chatting · Reading Recs

Unseelie Book Review

Twin sisters, both on the run, but different as day and night. One, a professional rogue, searches for a fabled treasure; the other, a changeling, searches for the truth behind her origins, trying to find a place to fit in with the realm of fae who made her and the humans who shun her. 

Iselia “Seelie” Graygrove looks just like her twin, Isolde… but as an autistic changeling trying to navigate her unpredictable magic, Seelie finds it more difficult to fit in with the humans around her. When Seelie and Isolde are caught up in a heist gone wrong and make some unexpected allies, they find themselves unraveling a larger mystery that has its roots in the history of humans and fae alike.

 Both sisters soon discover that the secrets of the faeries may be more valuable than any pile of gold and jewels. But can Seelie harness her magic in time to protect her sister, and herself?

5/5 Stars: I would like to adopt Seelie and give her a hug right now please and thank you

I’ve been looking forward to this book for months and it did not disappoint. The world is so rich and believable. It’s an enticing blend of whimsical and terrifying, grounded in a very familiar reality but full of fantastical elements that weave naturally with the mundane. I also really enjoyed the portrayal of the Seelie and Unseelie courts. I’ve been a fairytale and folklore nerd since I was a kid, and it’s always fascinating to see how other authors handle the established customs and lore while creating their own unique story, and Ivelisse Housman does it very well, especially juxtaposing the perception of each realm against the protagonist, Seelie, herself.

The characters are what make this story so memorable and lovely. Seelie is an autistic changeling with overwhelming magic – but in a story where the word “autistic” doesn’t exist – Housman has to show just what that means through her 1st person perspective. Throughout the book, people treat Seelie’s awkwardness, struggles, and general weirdness as nothing more than a part of her being a changeling. They expect her to be odd. People assume all changelings are odd. But that’s not necessarily true – she’s autistic, AND a changeling, and those two traits are a big part of her personality and identity that interact, but they aren’t the same thing, and that’s important.

Not to get too personal, since I’m not officially diagnosed as autistic idk how much of a right I have to claim this representation for myself, but I don’t know if I’ve ever read something so relatable, except for maybe Meg Murry from A Wrinkle in Time. I was homeschooled through 8th grade, and when I went to public high school, everyone, including myself, attributed my awkwardness to that upbringing. Society expects homeschoolers to have odd mannerisms, even though I had I had plenty of opportunities to socialize with other kids through clubs and field trips. But even with four years of “real school” and college, I still have odd mannerisms, and weird hobbies, and social awkwardness in spades. It’s only through reading about the community of late-diagnosed autistic people, and especially women, that I’ve learned the vocabular to describe my experience. Reading Seelie’s perspective felt so fundamentally familiar to my experience in so many ways: being the odd one out and not knowing why, not having the language to explain sensory overwhelm, or meltdowns, or special interests, or stimming.

She makes mistakes, she’s sometimes obnoxious and immature and stubborn, like any overwhelmed teenager, but she’s also brave, and clever, and the hero of her own story. She’s an inspiration, and I cannot wait to see how she continues to develop in the next book. I also think I’ve found my next cosplay. When I unpackaged the book, my mother did a double-take and asked, “Is that you?” and she’s… not wrong. I could do Isolde easily with my hair’s current length, and I plan to grow it out again to match Seelie’s.

I also can’t talk about Seelie without mentioning her twin Isolde. I am desperate to know what’s going on inside her head, she is such an interesting character in her own right, and we only see her from Seelie’s perspective. I would love a short story or companion novel or something in her POV in the future. I love the bond the two of them have together, and the sweet domestic scenes with Birch in the Destiny were some of my favorite ones in the novel. Likewise, their arguments were the most heart wrenching ones.

The supporting cast is also excellent. Raze manages to be insufferable and likeable, which is high praise. Usually if a character is too annoying I’ll simply skim any parts with them, but I stayed invested whenever he was on the page, and grew to like him alongside Seelie. I loved his banter and friendship with Olani, and the way the duo serves as foils to the sisters. The friendship between Olani and Isolde reminds me of the phrase “as Iron sharpens Iron” – two strong women making each other better fighters, and better people in turn. Leira is an intimidating villain, and I’m both fascinated and terrified by what Gossamer is scheming and what it means for the world at large.


Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for an interview with the author, Ivelisse Housman, about the writing process for this book! In the meantime, I want this blog to be more than me shouting into the void. If I can use this platform to help boost other creators, I’d love to see your work too. If you want to have your recommendations and/or your own writing featured in a Resource Rec post, or if you want to collaborate with me, you can leave a comment below for both, or contact me on either tumblr or IG! If you feel so generously inclined, you can support my writing by leaving me a tip or buying stickers on my Kofi. Until next time, thanks for reading and happy writing!

Chatting · Reading Recs

2023 TBR (And Reminding Myself of the Obvious)

I hit burnout last year, and I hit it hard. Over the summer, I desperately wanted to finish the 3rd draft of runaways, but struggled to muster the energy and focus needed to even read through the document. During NaNoWriMo, I got back into editing, but I treated it like another assignment. Words got done more because of willpower than because of inspiration because I was already in that crunch time mental state. In the process of writing the largest of the developmental changes, I realized this book probably needs two more POVs than I originally anticipated, turning it into a much larger and more complex project, and bringing with it a sense of dread that I will never finish, never publish, and never have anything to show for this work. Looking ahead at the year, seeing so much traveling, moving, graduating, starting a new job, and other major life upheavals, I’m already exhausted just glancing over the calendar.

I’ve hit writer’s block now, too. Travelling to visit my grandparents over break, I had to be in the car for a grand total of 10 hours round trip. I should have been fully awake, undistracted by the internet, and immensely productive, as I’ve been in years past. The objective: finish, edit, and post a new short story for my mailing list about a sorceress who stole the sun, and the seamstress that brought it back. Despite having a rough outline for the story, and inspiration aplenty, I hit a wall of creative block trying to make the lore consistent, then the words wouldn’t come when I tried to force myself to focus on the blank page, and I managed a total of 90 words. Pathetic.

The worst part is: I know exactly what caused this problem, and how to fix it, but I haven’t let myself do what I need to fix the problem.

Burnout happens when you over-commit and work yourself too hard for too long without breaks. It’s very easy to trap yourself in a cycle of “Oh, I’m so behind, if I only work harder, I can take a break.” But working harder only makes you more burnt out, more inefficient, and more behind, and so the vicious cycle continues. For me, this build-up occurs most frequently during the semester, and then I promptly get sick as soon as finals are over. But a side effect is this: in my shreds of free time, I refuse to rest. I spend so much time being an engineer that when I have the opportunity to work on my creative pursuits, I prioritize creating, instead of sitting down to do the things that refresh my creative well. I brag about how I go months without turning on the TV. I only read by listening to audiobooks on my commute to work, or while doing tedious lab tests, which means I work through my TBR at an astonishingly slow pace. And even there – I naturally refer to reading as “work” and talk about my “pace” as if I’m on an assembly line, and not as if its an activity I love, that inspires me, and makes up part of my identity.

You need to breathe in to breathe out.

I got so caught up in telling stories that I forgot what inspired me to write in the first place. I was a bookworm as a kid. Mom punished me, not by restricting access to the TV or video games, but by hiding my books out of reach and confiscating the flashlight. I’m struggling to put words to page because I’ve forgotten how to string together eloquent prose in the torrent of academic papers written in past test passive voice. I used to scoff at boring adults who never frequented the library, but as an adult, I’ve found myself daunted by the idea of setting aside so much time to finish the books I check out between visits. But I miss that and I need to make it a priority again—not only because reading books is something I *should* do, but because it’s something I *want* to do.

I’ve been holding my breath, and this year, I ran out of air.

The first year I ran this blog, I was pretty good about having a reading rec post on a monthly basis, which meant I read or reread at least 12 things a year, but I’ve fallen out of the habit. This year, I’ll be bringing back that post format, as well as author biographies, because as writers, I think it’s important to know about the people behind our favorite stories. History is a special interest of mine, and so I think it would be an interesting exercise to research more about the literary movements and influences that came before, and how learning more about the past can help us contextualize our fiction in terms of the present, and the future. If there are any English majors out there laughing at me, please understand my brain has been thoroughly fried by four years of differential equations and I’m sure you’ve noticed the atrocious amount of passive voice past tense grammar leaking into my prose from the lab reports.

Let’s talk about prose too. I’ve never been one to worry much about my writing style. As a beginner, I read that there’s no way to force a particular style into your writing and that one would develop with time and practice. In my experience, this is true, and when you’re just trying to reach The End on your first manuscript, getting words down is more important that fretting about eloquence. I’m not on first drafts anymore, though. All my projects are in various stages of editing, and in line editing, sentences matter. They’re the brushstrokes that make up the whole painting. The ingredients that make up the layers in a decadent cake, or the richness of the flavor in a savory meal. The prose you consume will bleed into your style, and the publishing industry holds genres to certain standards. This is why it’s important to read both a broad variety of topics and authors to expose yourself to many styles and voices, and why it’s important to read in your target genre, to understand the conventional expectations.

I can’t tell an entertaining story if the only thing I’m reading is academic papers. It’s impossible to prepare a banquet with the literary equivalents of hardtack. (I should also probably knock it off with the food metaphors and go make myself dinner.)

ANYHOW. Onto the part of the post you probably care about:

The TBR:

Unseelie by Ivelisse Housman: This book is one I preordered months ago and I’ve actually already finished it. I really enjoyed this story and it totally lived up to the hype, so stay tuned for a full review and an interview with the author!!!

Pyreflies by Lynette Bacon-Nguyen: This is an ARC from an author in one of my fandom discord servers and next up on the reading list! You can also expect a review on this blog soon.

Howl by Katie Koontz: This is a werewolf novel by one of my best friends on tumblr and I know she’s been working really hard on it so I’m excited to read the finished version after seeing so many snippets on her blog!

A Rival Most Vial and Aspens Guide to Growing Your Grove by R.K. Ashwick: Another writeblr bestie! I’ve read her debut novel The Stray Spirit as an ARC and you can find my review here (I loved it) and my interview with her here, so I’m super excited to see her next book come out. This is a new series, called Side Quest Row, and I’ve been following the development of this book since it was first-draft and spawning pirate and spy AUs, so I’m very excited to see it in all its finished splendor.

Other People’s Heartache by Vanessa Roades: This author is a friend of mine on Instagram and I’ve had it sitting around in my email for a WHILE now as I signed up for a bunch of newsletters all around the same time for the free stories. I’m intrigued by the premise and need to get around to catching up on the backlog of ebooks I have downloaded!

Whatever Happened to Madline Hail by Arista Holmes: Another Instagram author friend, and another newsletter freebie that I’ve got in my ebook library folder!

The Brandon Sanderson Secret Novels: If you follow publishing news in the fantasy spaces, you’re probably familiar with BrandoSandos insane quarantine hobby and mind-boggling Kickstarter from last year. If you don’t know the backstory, this prolific author of the Mistborn Trilogy and the Stormlight Archive used to travel 1/3 of the time pre-lockdown, which severely cut into his writing time, and when COVID struck in 2020, he just… casually wrote an extra five books in his newly acquired free time. He started a Kickstarter to have them published in A Year of Sanderson, putting out the books every quarter, along with lots of exclusive merch and subscription boxes, which immediately broke the record for the fastest funded campaign and the record for the most amount of money ever raised on Kickstarter EVER. He donated a lot of this money to other publishing kickstarters as a way of giving back to the community, and continued putting out the regularly scheduled books, like a glorious madman, and the first of these secret novels released on January 1st. I’m already behind on the rest of the Cosmere, but what’s another stack of books on the list I guess?

Short Stories from the Tor Newsletter: Brandon Sanderson’s publisher puts out a newsletter on a regular basis that always contains a number of interesting articles about the industry and fantasy news, as well as an original short story from one of their authors. I discovered that these are a fantastic easy way to fill up your Goodreads book goal with fast reads, and they’re in a genre that I really enjoy, so they’re a solid option for quick commutes on the bus, or between study breaks at school. I have links to them saved so I can go back to the ones I miss, and I want to keep up with them this year to discover new authors and continuously read short fiction so I learn more about how to write those types of stories!

Going Postal by Terry Pratchett: I’ve wanted to get into the Discworld series for ages, and I’ve read Mort already, but haven’t been able to find many of the books. One of my best friends was moving house earlier this year and didn’t want her copy, so she let me steal it, and I’m determined to get through some of the unread physical books sitting on my shelf lol

Way Too Many Email Substacks: Back when Dracula Daily was consistently trending #1 on tumblr, a bunch of lovely people set up email substacks for other classic works of literature, and I, full of hubris, subscribed to ALL of them. I’m now several weeks behind on Great Expecations, A Study in Scarlett, Moby Dick, Les Mis, and a modern fantasy story that’s also being done in a serialized format called “Last Light” by A. Lawrence. I’m determined to binge read the archive to catch up and then stay caught up, preferably before the substacks actually end.


Thanks for reading! What are your TBRs for the year? I want this blog to be more than me shouting into the void. If I can use this platform to help boost other creators, I’d love to see your work too. If you want to have your recommendations and/or your own writing featured in a Resource Rec post, or if you want to collaborate with me, you can leave a comment below for both, or contact me on either tumblr or IG! If you feel so generously inclined, you can support my writing by leaving me a tip or buying stickers on my Kofi. Until next time, thanks for reading and happy writing!

Chatting · Monthly Goals

2022 Year In Review

Top Posts of the Year

  1. How to Finish What You Start
  2. How to Write a Fighter
  3. What I’ve Learned Writing Short Stories
  4. My Beta Reader Experience
  5. The Sea of Savage Stars

Reading Goals:

Goodreads: I failed this goal at 30/35 books. I take issue with goodreads as a system however, because I think reading ought to be counted by word count. It tracks “books” and pages, but formatting can wildly change the number of pages that a story takes up: from edition to edition and book to book. Of these, 8 were short stories, 4 were nonfiction, 5 were podcasts (the seasons of The Magnus Archives, which should count as short fiction anthologies), 8 were rereads, and 6 were indie publications. If you want to friend me on Goodreads, you can find me here! I’m also planning to start using Storygraph more consistently in the new year, so you can find me there!

Beta Reading: I finished two works by my fellow writing friends: Order of The Sun by @writeblrfantasy on tumblr, and Dreams Shadow by Quinn Siarven

The Inklings Challenge: I did not finish catching up on all the stories that were shared because there were SO MANY, but the ones that I did read were excellent. The Inklings Challenge is a month-long writing event for Christian authors of fantasy and science fiction, inspired by a real challenge attempted by the original Inklings writing group. For this tumblr challenge, participants were randomly sorted into one of three groups, with each assigned to a different type of speculative fiction story inspired by their namesake. You can read them all here!

Website/Author’s Platform Work:

    Scheduled for the Year, Writing, and Publishing Posts on a Consistent Weekly Basis: This was a mighty feat, as I was SUPER busy and scraping the bottom of the barrel for new ideas. Each post takes at least an hour to draft, and often another hour or more to make sure all the links are embedded properly, the metadata in tags, categories, photo, and summary are up to date, and making social media posts to go along with each post. It’s a labor of love, and one I am very proud to have kept up for two full years and counting.

    Fixed WordPress Tags and Cleaned Up Old Posts: I had over 100 posts up by this summer when I did this maintenance, and they were a disorganized mess. The archive should me much more navigable now! You can browse my most common topics by clicking any of the links in the cloud below!

    author interview author platform book review changelings character development Character Introduction children's literature classics creative writing creativity editing education epic fantasy fairy tales folklore free short story high fantasy indie author indie books magic magic system middle grade fiction Monthly Goals my writing newsletter outlining plotting productivity reading recommendation Runaways science fiction short story siblings Storge story structure the count of monte cristo The Laoche Chronicles WIP excerpt work life balance worldbuilding Writing Advice writing community writing goals writing resources writing tips

    Did Major Redesign and Blog Update: If you remember my old theme, no you don’t. It was rather boring and minimalistic, difficult to navigate, and very amateur looking. The new design is much cuter, I think, and hopefully easier to get around for a new user. As my hosting renewal expired (more on this later), I also made the choice to upgrade my plan, which gave me more substantial analytics on search criteria, and a bunch of backend tools to help with caching so the site can load quicker. This was a huge job that I had been meaning to do for aggeeesss and I’m very happy with my new home!

    Interviews: These were less frequent this year, but I’m super excited about the two indie authors who agreed to appear on the blog! Faye Fite is a fantasy writer I’ve admired for many years, and R.K. Ashwick is a good friend of mine on writeblr!

    First ARC Review: R.K. was also kind enough to let me review her debut cosy fantasy novel, The Stray Spirit.

    Monetization:

    I’ve resisted this for a while because while I’m not by any means rich, I’ve been blessed to find work through school and internships that pay well enough to cover my bills and my schooling, and my parents let me live at home over breaks. I have enough income that I would prefer to donate it to other creatives instead of trying to crowdfund, when I don’t need the money to survive. It leaves a nasty taste in my mouth to think about competing with other people who urgently need funds for stuff like rent, utilities, and groceries.

    But it occurred to me that self publishing will rack up enormous costs I cannot currently afford, even with my reasonably stable financial situation. Hiring (at a living salary) a cover artist, illustrator, professional editor, and formatting services, paying for the ISBNs, and maybe setting aside a small budget for giveaway copies and advertising, can run up to thousands of dollars. Also, it would be nice to have some compensation for how much time I spend maintaining my website, because it’s almost a part-time job. 

    Then, renewal came up and WordPress, unannounced, killed the version of their hosting plan my website was on. I ended up switching to a plan that’s twice as expensive, at $8 a month, and gave me some nicer customization, as well as the ability to monetize the site through a donations box or ads. Unfortunately, it still doesn’t let me use many of the useful plugins that make WordPress work effectively, and the plan that gives me free access to the plugin library runs at $15 a month, which is prohibitively expensive. Domain prices are being raised in the new year as well. To my mind, the higher operation cost justified the choice to monetize this site. I briefly ran some unobtrusive ads at the bottom of my posts, but in the 5 months I had them enabled, I made less than 50 cents, and they can only pay you after you reach $100. This was, quite frankly, ridiculous, and unachievable, given my current view statistics, and I disabled them because nobody likes ads.

    My alternative solution is now opening a Kofi donation “tip jar”, and a sticker shop! If you want to support my work here, and help contribute to my publishing fund, I would dearly appreciate any amount ❤

    Mailing List/Short Stories

    This year, I put out three unique new short stories to the subscribers on my mailing list. “Brigid’s Visits” follows a minor character from Runaways. Brigid is a friend the girls meet in the Seelie Court and she leads a group of “powers” – humans the fae gift with phenomenal powers. This story follows her adventures through time with a few familiar spirits. “Half-Switched Siblings” is a split-POV story told by the Semivera twins as they attempt to find their way to each other again. “Edge of Infinity” is a short script: a conversation between an artist and her prosecutor arguing about the nature of her crimes. This final script is also accompanied by an audio drama! Merari is voiced by my friend Sarina Socko (Instagram, TikTok). I voiced Aella and edited the audio with sound effects.

    If you want to read any of these stories, you still can! When you sign up for the mailing list, you get access to the full backlog of fiction. I plan to put out a collection of these shorts eventually, when I’ve accumulated enough material, but subscribers get the first look! In addition to these, I wrote “To Light and to Guard” for the Inklings Challenge, which you can read on the blog, here.

    WIPS

    Storge: I did a full read through at the beginning of the year, and rewrote chapters 1-4, I think. It’s been several months, and I honestly lost track of which scenes I’ve edited 2, 3, or 6 times by now. I put the rewrite on pause so that I could re-outline the series, as I’ll discuss next. I realized there is a cyclical element to working with a timeline: if I change plot points at the beginning, it will obviously alter the order of events following that book, but this also works in reverse. If I alter the endgame of a story, then I have to change everything that comes before so the plot twists are properly foreshadowed and the character choices make sense to the reader. Storge will continue being a work in progress alongside the rest of the story.

    The Laoche Chronicles: Backstory time – once upon a time, baby, 14-year-old Etta, invented a fantasy world “heavily inspired” by her favorite stories. This original version had my own flair, with the protagonist being physically trapped in a book as a moving living illustration, but much of the surrounding plot and supporting characters I chock-filled with cliches and unnecessary drama. Over the years, this vision evolved and grew, until the thumb drive storing ALL my notes got stolen in high school. This forced me to rethink what I wanted to do with the series, and I went back in time to develop the prequel – which took 6 years to become Storge – during which time I learned a LOT more about storytelling, my writing style, and my personal taste. I also realized many of my previous ideas would need to be completely scrapped and rebuilt from the ground up. This summer, I did a full re-evaluation and sticky-note conspiracy board on the wall of my apartment, which resulted in the beginnings of a new spreadsheet outline. The story is far from complete, but this is more concrete progress than I’ve had for years, and I’m looking forward to getting to know these characters again.

    Runaways: I finished the 1st round of beta reading, which unfortunately took far longer than I hoped it would, and accumulated all the beta feedback by the beginning of summer. My hope was to finish the 3rd draft by the end of the summer and start another round of beta reading, but burnout struck and I failed in meeting that goal. During NaNoWriMo, I rewrote through chapter 5, and decided the story needs 2 additional POVs. This makes it a much more complicated project than I originally planned, and I will not be publishing this year, but I’m so excited to know that the book is better for the changes I’m including. I hope you all don’t mind the wait.

    Art

    This year, I learned how to use alcohol markers, practiced my embroidery by starting a patch jacket, and learned digital art! I already did a recap of my art this year, so you can read that post here to see all of the pictures without making this article any ridiculously longer than it already is haha. Some major projects this year included a pirate shirt, Vin Mistborn cosplay, and a comic for my Avatar The Last Airbender inspired DnD game.

    Resolutions for 2023

    1. Don’t burn out again
    2. Have fun.

    This is going to be a year of BIG transitions for me. I have another semester to spend with my friends, taking some fun classes, and finishing the last two classes of my degree. During this time, it makes the most sense to focus on enjoying that time with the people I love, before we all scatter to the winds, meaning my writing and creative projects will take a back-burner to everyday adventures. Thankfully, I already have a job locked down for post-graduation, and in June, I will move across 3 states, and start my new role. Between finding and furnishing an apartment, there are a few big family events I’ll attend, and later in the summer, I’m hoping to plan a trip to Europe with my sister who’s studying abroad. With so many events coming up, I don’t want to make any promises regarding my writing progress for the year. I plan to keep posting weekly, and I have some fun new series coming up that I hope you’ll enjoy. Happy new year everyone! I hope it’s a good one for us all.


    Thanks for reading! What are your hopes for the year? I want this blog to be more than me shouting into the void. If I can use this platform to help boost other creators, I’d love to see your work too. If you want to have your recommendations and/or your own writing featured in a Resource Rec post, or if you want to collaborate with me, you can leave a comment below for both, or contact me on either tumblr or IG! If you feel so generously inclined, you can support my writing by leaving me a tip or buying stickers on my Kofi. Until next time, thanks for reading and happy writing!

    Chatting · Writing Advice

    How To Find Creative Friends

    You’ve all seen the memes.

    The tote bags that proclaim, “don’t talk to me, I’m scheming your fictional death,” the mugs that argue “books are better than people,” and dozens of other introverted slogans plastered on merchandize items sold at the front of Barnes and Nobles. The endless pinterest boards and Instagram feeds full of #relatable #booklover content. Yeah. We’ve all seen ’em.

    I object.

    Listen, this is coming from someone as stereotypically socially awkward as your next INTJ “not like other girls” author, but finding a supportive community of other creative friends has been the BEST thing for my own creative motivation, the quality of my work, and the improvement of my overall mental health. I’ve shared in the past few weeks how my various friends helped me out through the making of my mistcloak and rambled about the joy and tears they bring me in our dnd games, and I consider myself very blessed to know them. There’s a certain disconnect between myself and people who don’t make stuff. On some fundamental level, I cannot understand people who do not have a story to tell, who don’t have that itch to share art with the world. I need other creative people who can share my passion to stay sane and happy, and with no exaggeration, the people I’ve grown to know and love in the past couple years are the only reason I survived the more difficult parts of quarantine and college.

    If you’re looking to expand your own social network of creative people, here are some ways to make friends in those spaces:

    Finding the nerds

    Join Clubs: If you are still in school, this is the easiest way to get a high concentration of artistic folks in one room. If there’s no such thing as a writer’s group, consider looking into the Dungeons and Dragons/Tabletop Roleplaying Game club (and read my post on how DnD made me a better writer), a book club, or art groups such as knitting/crochet/painting clubs. Show up consistently, and you’ll get to know the other regulars soon enough.

    Join Community Groups: If you’re not in school, this is the easiest way to make friends as an adult. These can be a little bit harder to find because they aren’t centralized in the same way clubs at a school are, but google and the library are great places to start. If you have a community rec center, that’s also a good place to look. Find the poster boards full of flyers, and take note of when the meetings occur for any clubs that look interesting. Many libraries have writing and crafting groups and book clubs. Your local game store might be able to get you in contact with other dnd players. Some community centers offer classes that you can sign up for. The point is to get out of your house and attending events regularly.

    Check Out National Organizations Local Chapters: The one that immediately springs to mind is National Novel Writing Month. Every November, and often for the camps in July and April, the local municipal liaisons host write-ins and other fun events to help people meet their word count goals. If you make friends with the writers there, you can keep in touch and challenge each other to sprints throughout the year as well, use each other as sounding boards, and cheer each other when you meet major milestones. I’m sure there are other national organizations dedicated to fostering the writing and creative communities, so do some investigating to see if there’s perhaps an inktober drawathon or a fantasy writer’s month doing events in your city. Renaissance Faires are also a great place to hang out and network.

    Online Communities: To be clear, you need real people friends to pull you out of your house as well, but I can’t stress enough how fantastic the writeblr space is on tumblr. If you’re into fanfiction, then you’re probably already familiar with wattpad and Archive of our Own. If you’re reading this, I would encourage you to check out more blogs under the writing tag on wordpress! There are so many wonderful people to meet despite the distance.

    Ok, so you found them. Now how do you talk to them?

    Show up: The sooner you can become a regular, the sooner people will start knowing your face and striking up friendly conversation. The reason making friends in elementary school was so much simpler was because you were forced to spend 8 hours in close proximity to those people. If you simply put in the time to attend weekly meetings and regular events, you may find yourself making friends effortlessly as you bond with your shared interest!

    Find the Extroverts: They’re probably the ones leading the club, and they’re probably the ones who will come up to welcome you first. Don’t try to squirm out of those conversations, but if you can endear yourself to one social butterfly, it won’t take long until you find yourself dragged into an extensive friend group. Don’t be clingy or creepy, but if you stay near to them, eventually the other people will come to you by proxy.

    Never Say No (Within Reason): Did you get invited to a write in? A trip to the local museum? A music venue? Out to eat after a regular meeting? Unless there’s a legitimate safety or scheduling or health reason not to go with them, try to say yes as often as possible! More often than not, you’ll find yourself enjoying the experience, and it’s an opportunity to get to know the people better, outside of the structured meeting times, which is how deeper friendships form. Making the conscious effort to spend more time in social situations with people who could be potential friends will slowly expand the amount of space for interaction in your social battery. Likewise, being reclusive will make you require more alone time. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone a healthy amount is a good thing, but not to the point that it’s harmful and uncomfortable. It’s perfectly ok to go along to a bar, then order a soda and listen to the conversation instead of being the life of the party. They’ll still appreciate your company.

    Networking in real life: Yes, this word is scary. I still find it terrifying. At a Ren Faire this past summer, my friend Ben had to all but force me to self promote my stories to an interested librarian, so I’m certainly no expert, but this is the formula that tends to work in my experience:

    1. Strike up a conversation naturally with a stranger. They might be a shopkeeper at a faire, or someone you’re randomly paired with at an event.
    2. Find something you have in common – usually through the event.
    3. Vibe Check – is this someone you’d like to get to know better? Is this someone that could help you out with a problem you’re having? If yes, proceed to step four, if not, proceed to step five.
    4. If you want to connect with that person, say, “Hey I really enjoyed chatting with you and I’d love to stay in touch. What’s a good way that I can keep in contact with you?”
    5. If you don’t want to connect with them, say, “Thanks for chatting,” and return to step 1. Always be polite, never burn a bridge.
    6. Acquire contact information, either through a phone number or social media. If you get their number, include a little section in the notes about where you met them and something memorable about them or the conversation you had to jog your memory later, and ask for a picture so you can match the face to the name if you have a terrible memory like me.
    7. Follow up. That evening, whenever you get home from the event, or the following day, text or DM them and say, “Hey it’s [Name], it was really nice talking with you at [event] the other day. Thanks for [relevant detail.]”
    8. Continue that conversation if possible by asking appropriate questions about them and their work, especially if your previous conversation got cut off due to time constraints or something like that.
    9. Ask if they’ll be at the next meeting and say you’ll see them there, that way they know to look for you and keep chatting later!

    Networking online: This is slightly less terrifying because you can operate behind a screen name and take time to formulate responses, but still can be intimidating if you’re trying to get into a new community. I have another formula for you!

    1. Introduce yourself with a formal post – pin it somewhere convenient so people know who you are at a glance. Update your profile picture so you don’t look like a bot.
    2. Lurk for a bit to learn the etiquette so you don’t accidentally make a fool of yourself – but not too long, so you don’t get intimidated
    3. Follow a few people who seem cool and start sharing their work with friendly comments – if you show up regularly in someone’s notifications, they’ll start to recognize you as a friend and check out your work in turn
    4. Post your own work! Do not be afraid to throw your personal blorbos at the internet! Be as passionate as possible and people will wonder what’s up with that and become curious to learn more
    5. Participate in trends, tag games, ask games, community challenges, and stuff to get you on people’s radar as an active member of the community
    6. Be patient! Social media is meant to be a social place – don’t worry about building a brand, just be yourself and hang out.
    7. Unofficial Rule Seven: Say hi to me! Comments are always open. Just saying! I don’t bite.

    Volunteer: Is it too hard for you to network as an attendee? Try signing up to help run these events instead! You’ll receive specific instructions on what to do, which takes the pressure off figuring out social situations yourself, since you’ll be busy setting up and conducting the activity. And people will come up to you to strike up a conversation, so you don’t have to initiate the interaction. Additionally, the staff usually have special privileges and security, smaller group chats, and the shared experience creates closer bonds between them. In my personal experience, people who volunteer for one job are involved as leaders in ten other groups too, so this is an extremely efficient way to make connections with the extroverts who always know another guy. You might even become one of them!


    Thanks for reading! I want this blog to be more than me shouting into the void. If I can use this platform to help boost other creators, I’d love to see your work too. If you want to have your recommendations and/or your own writing featured in a Resource Rec post, or if you want to collaborate with me, you can leave a comment below for both, or contact me on either tumblr or IG! If you feel so generously inclined, you can support my writing by leaving me a tip or buying stickers on my Kofi. Until next time, thanks for reading and happy writing!

    Chatting · Misc. Creative Projects · Writing Advice

    Never Stop Making Stuff

    I discovered something delightful the other day whilst backing up my files. (Here’s your complementary reminder to save all your old work. Go do it now, and come back to read this.)

    (Everything duplicated and safely archived?)

    (Welcome back!)

    My art archive starts in October 2019 – I’d just recently joined Tumblr and wanted to participate in the Inktober trend I saw trending. Since I was working on Storge at the time, my bright idea was to illustrate various scenes from the story based on the daily prompts. I’d never picked up a pen for the purpose of drawing, not writing, but armed with a healthy amount of enthusiasm and a staggering amount of sheer audacity, I boldly started posting pictures of my new creations. The result was, unsurprisingly, less than spectacular, but despite the childish style, a few lovely people took the initiative to encourage me – @siarven, @abalonetea, and @inkwell-attitude were some of my first friends in the writing and artistic community, and they remain some of my best friends to this day.

    An ink drawing done on dotted paper of a teenage boy standing in a fighting pose with red magic flowing from his fingertips. He has long hair cut around his chin, wears no shirt to show his branching scars in the same red, and basic shorts. The drawing looks almost cartoony, drawn by an amateur.

    I kept drawing after that, and my 2019 folder clocks in at 54 items, half of which are reference images of myself posing to figure out how to draw hands. Mostly, I used ink, pencil, and colored pencil. They are truly atrocious and so I will not inflict you with any more than this, but the experience was a solid start to learning how to draw!

    2020

    This year has 217 items! Look at that huge increase in quantity! This is partially because this folder spans a whole year, rather than a few months tacked onto the end of a year. This year also saw the rise of zoom university during the first round of pandemic lockdowns, and I kept drawing as a stim to keep my hands busy during class. I started learning anatomy and character posing. Mostly I used ink, pencil, and colored pencil, and with the spike in quality, the quality and my speed dramatically improved as well.

    2021

    This year became much more busy with school and work so it has a pretty significant decline in quantity to 140 items. HOWEVER, this year saw probably my largest improvement in developing my personal style. I became much more comfortable with “eyeballing” natural looking poses and conveying the right expressions.

    [Image Descriptions: 5 photos in a tiled gallery.

    Photo 1: Shows a pencil drawing of a humanioid bird-person mid-flight. He’s angled facing the viewer, and looks at something to his top-right with a mischevious expression. He wears a simple tunic and holds an object in his hands clasped close to the chest. His wings and tail feathers are outstretched.

    Photo 2: Shows a woman from the waist up, spinning around to look at the viewer with a shocked expression. She has dark skin covered in small pockmark scars, and hair in braids that swing around her.

    Photo 3: Two drawings on one page. The top right drawing shows a young girl with dark skin, freckles, and long curly hair wiping blood off her nose. She wears a simple white tang-top dress. Lower drawing shows a teenaged boy mid-run, one arm in front of him with hand oustretched, the other flung behind him. He has dark skin, freckles, short curly hair, and a determined expression. He wears a simple white tunic, grey pants, and a cloak that billows behidn him. Golden magic is thrown between his hands in an arc.

    Photo 4: Shows a picture of a sketchbook page, done in pencil, against a red carpet background. The page shows a figure with a smirking jack-o-lantern head standing on a beanstalk. He wears jester’s clothing, a broken crown, and a cloak with frost curling at the edges. He carries a pail of water that sloshes over the edge and drips into ice crystals, and an axe is belted at his hip. Below him, a bridge is lit with candles, while the moon is bright in the sky above against a dark background.

    Photo 5: A pencil drawing of two figures hugging. The shorter one is a woman with long blonde hair and wearing a long dress, burying her face in the chest of the taller man. He wears a tailcoat and has light hair cut around his chin, and he looks at her with a surprised expression, not quite sure what to do with his hands as he moves to hug her back.

    End Image Descriptions.]

    2022

    The year isn’t even finished and we’re at roughly 411 items! I learned markers! I taught myself digital art and experimented a ton with my style and rendering! I drew a whole comic! I designed stickers! My mediums have expanded into laser etching acrylic, 3D Printing, and audio editing! I embroidered a ton of patches, hand sewed a shirt, and machine sewed a cloak! I started playing with my hair and nails and makeup for the first time since I was eight and I am turning myself into the piece of art!!!

    [Image Description: 14 images in a tiled gallery.

    Image 1: A pencil drawing of a young girl with dark skin and long curly hair wearing a white tang top dress. Her eyes are completely black, and she has a shadowy halo behind her. She appears angry and focused. / Image 2: A photo of me sitting next to a river wearing a white billowy pirate shirt. I’m turned away from the camera so you cannot see my face, but I have dark hair in a french braid and wear a hoop earring. It’s a cloudy day. / Image 3: A blue pen doodle in my school notes on lined paper of a woman in profile. She has curly blonde hair that tumbles around her shoulders and has a sad distressed expression. Her freckles are stars. / Image 4: A photo of my hand holding a large clear knife cut from acrylic against the backdrop of the laser cutter I used to make it.

    Image 5: A photo of my hand holding a sticker from my shop, titled “A Well Armed Author.” It depicts a white saber against a dark blue background full of stars. Black ink swirls with a magic golden glow burst from the bottom of the sticker and swirl around the sword to form a fountain tip pen at the point. The shop is blurry in the background, and my thumbnail had chipped black polish. / Image 6: A photo of a red articulated 3D printed velociraptor sitting on my open notebook. It is slumped backwards and resting on its tail as if tired.

    Image 7: A marker drawing of a teenage boy with dark skin and dark curly hair cut around his chin. He smiles and holds up his arms, casting a spell. Shreds of white and golden glowing magic swirl around his open hands. / Image 8: A mirror selfie showing off my patch jacket, holding my phone in front of my face. The jacket is a dark grey-green. On there shoulder there is a homemade Bridge Four patch from the Stormlight Archive – a white and blue geometric design. There is also a karate patch showing the US and Japanese flags. Over the heart is a heart-shaped patch with The Amazing Devil band logo – a stylized abbreviation of the band name. Over the other lapel is another karate patch showing a fist in white and red. On my hip is an oval shaped patch that reads “Crafty Bitch” with various art supplies. Over each pocket is embroidered flowers and mushrooms, with added plastic foliage stitched on. / Image 9: A photo of me wearing a white shirt and twirling in my black cloak. I’m standing against a stone wall in the woods, and grinning. I have tan skin, brown hair cut in a bob, and I’m smiling.

    Image 10: A digital painting of a man in armour with a billowing red cape, facing left and shown in profile. He holds out an arm towards the viewer, holding a curved sword. The background is dark blue. He has an angry determined expression and blood streaks off his blade. / Image 11: A digital painting of a woman with pale skin and a short curly bob knitting. The fabric hanging from her needles is transluscent and shows stars caught between the threads. The fabric and the needles are bloodstained and she has a wicked smile, being lit from behind by white light. Text reads “The Edge of Infinity” in white letters over the fabric.

    Image 13: A digital painting of a girl from behind wearing a dark green coat looking out over a mountain range in the distance. She’s surrounded by trees and the whole painting is done in shades of greens and blues. / Image 14: A digital painting of a teenaged girl looking distraught. She has olive skin and freckles, and muddied brown hair being whipped by the wind. She wears an orange wrap with green borders and a yellow undershirt, and clasps her hands to her chest. Blood and shadow swirl around her head. Black and white lineart overlap the watercolor texture. / Image 15: A digital painting of a young woman sliding down a roof in an acrobatic pose. She’s wearing a sports bra, baggy pants, and wrapped boots, and wears her hair in a high pony tail that’s messy and coming loose. She has black geometric tatoos on her face and wrists. The entire paining is done in shades of red, pink, and purple.

    End Image Description]

    I hope that watching this progression serves as some small inspiration for any other discouraged artists. Never stop making stuff.

    Future you will thank you.


    Thanks for reading! I want this blog to be more than me shouting into the void. If I can use this platform to help boost other creators, I’d love to see your work too. If you want to have your recommendations and/or your own writing featured in a Resource Rec post, or if you want to collaborate with me, you can leave a comment below for both, or contact me on either tumblr or IG! If you feel so generously inclined, you can support my writing by leaving me a tip or buying stickers on my Kofi. Until next time, thanks for reading and happy writing!

    Chatting · Monthly Goals

    November Goals 2022

    Hello. Sorry this post is a little late, but hey, it’s finals season. Congratulations to everyone who survived NaNo, regardless of whether or not you won! It’s a crazy month with a high bar and I’m proud of anyone who attempted the challenge all the same. As we head into the hecticness of the holidays, be sure to take it easy on yourself, and enjoy the time with your families. I’m wrapping up my semester, and now that I have a job locked down for after graduation, I had to buckle down to catch up on all the work I’d been neglecting in pursuit of the job search, both for classes and clubs. But I still took advantage of my extra free time, so let’s see what I was able to accomplish!

    WON – 5/9 GOALS

    Make author stickers for inventory and set up shop – hurrah just in time for holiday merchandizing. Forgive this shameless plug.

    [Image Description: three photos of the six different stickers available at the ko-fi shop. 

First sticker: A cartoon hand holding a detailed handgun that is still smoking. The font says, "Checkov's Gun Leaves No Survivors" in black font with a background of blood spatters behind it.

Second sticker: A stack of five books with vibrant covers, and on their spines the stack reads "add it to the T B R." The books are orange, then yellow, green, blue, and red. The background is purple.

The third sticker is a screenshot of a web browser with a purple background. The search engine is called "Forbidden Knowledge" and in the search bar it says, "It's for 'research' I swear . . ." There are five open background tabs with different searches. Preserving mummies in space. Is embalming fluid flammable? Can you survive an autopsy? What if you microwave lava? How to build a trebuchet.

The fourth sticker is of a glowing white cutlace sword surrounded by black swirls that almost resemble lightning. The background is of a night sky. The sticker doesn't have any font, but in the shop it's called "A Well Armed Author"

    They’re live! Do you need to do some holiday shopping for your favorite writer? Need an answer to give to relatives asking for a wishlist? Just finished NaNoWriMo and want to get yourself a treat to celebrate winning and/or surviving? All these stickers are $2-$3 with some discount options available for the ones that didn’t turn out quite perfectly, and shipping is free. Every sticker is designed and hand-made by me! Grab yours here!

    Any money I make from this little endeavor will go towards paying the rent for my website, and contributing towards my publishing fund to pay illustrators and editors. WordPress just upcharged the price of domains form $8 a year to $19 a year and the price of my plan went from $4 to $8 to $15 a month in the past year, so any little bit helps! This also means I can turn off WordAds because in the whole six months I had them turned on, I made a grand total of 55 cents. ~yaaaaaaaayyy~ Nobody likes ads so we’re not doing that nonsense anymore! Buying a few stickers will keep this site running for a whole month, so if you want an easy way to support what I do here and also get some neat art out of it, this is the way to go. I’ll be adding lots more designs in the coming months too, so let me know if you have any requests!

    Finish editing Runaways during NaNo – For context, I impulsively decided to do NaNoWriMo on the first day of the month with absolutely 0 prep and after not having touched a word document in over 6 months with the singular goal to start writing again. I was tackling the 3rd draft of Runaways, which meant my wordcount was all kinds of wonky, and a combination of school obligations and travel meant that I didn’t come anywhere near hitting my mini-goal of 30K, much less the true 50K that’s customary for this challenge.

    However, in the midst of this, I’ve totally re-plotted the 2nd half the story, added two POVs and outlined two weeks of down-time in which character development, exposition, and training occur. This book was never going to be finished this month, but I’m very pleased with the progress I’ve made regardless. Counting on winter break to get caught up!

    Drawing/embroidery for patch jacket/dice bag/free space for other misc. Creative Nonsense. – I had a few back-burner projects in various stages of half-completion going into this month that I wanted to make progress on, so this was a “free space” goal if I managed to do anything for these mini arts. I made another patch for my jacket, in the logo of my favorite band, The Amazing Devil.

    I also finished this drawing, which is called “I AM CREATON BOTH HAUNTED AND HOLY” inspired by the song Creature by Half Alive. After laying out the poses and basic values, I decided to record the coloring process so I could put together this time lapse.

    This is my first time using the video block so in case that doesn’t work, here’s the final artwork!

    Stay up to date with fanfic and archive PMs – I talked a bit last month about the preservation of digital history, specifically messages with friends on dying sites, and how I wanted to create a backup of them for my personal reference. I’ve been slowly working on this project but there are hundreds of thousands of words of correspondance in my old fanfiction.net accoung and so it’s been a slow process. This one gets partial credit!

    Blog, IG, Pinterest scheduling – I hope you all didn’t mind the self indulgent sharing of my various side projects from November. Thank you for sticking around nonetheless!

    Stay up to date with Goodreads and reviews – LOL what’s “reading” during midterms??

    Attend at least one NaNoWriMo write in – I did, and I met a new friend! She’s a grad student at my uni, and we’re gonna keep meeting up to write throughout the end of the school year!

    Read and reply to inkling stories – Oh my goodness, there are so many. In case you missed it, The Inklings Challenge is a month-long writing event for Christian authors of fantasy and science fiction, inspired by a real challenge attempted by the original Inklings writing group. For this tumblr challenge, participants were randomly sorted into one of three groups, with each assigned to a different type of speculative fiction story inspired by their namesake. You can read my story, “To Light and to Guard” on this website here. I’ve been trying to go through the archive blog and catch up, but it’s a slow process because of the sheer number. This is the best problem to have, in my opinion.

    Clear out Tumblr drafts – To be fair most of these drafts are inklings stories I saved so I wouldn’t lose them, but to get to all the other tag games, I had to get through the inklings stories first. We’re getting there!


    Thanks for reading! What are you working on this month? I want this blog to be more than me shouting into the void. If I can use this platform to help boost other creators, I’d love to see your work too. If you want to have your recommendations and/or your own writing featured in a Resource Rec post, or if you want to collaborate with me, you can leave a comment below for both, or contact me on either tumblr or IG! If you feel so generously inclined, you can support my writing by leaving me a tip or buying stickers on my Kofi. Until next time, thanks for reading and happy writing!

    Misc. Creative Projects

    “Who are you?”

    Hello dear readers! Today I’m sharing another diversion from the usual writing excerpts to share a webcomic I drew! These characters come from a tabletop roleplaying game I do with some of my closest friends, set in the world of Avatar the Last Airbender. The story takes place about 5 years after the end of the series, in a newly formed Republic City. Our characters all came to the city to attend the new school there, to learn diplomacy and foster positive relationships between the nations. Nice idea in concept. In reality, the bad blood never dried, and a terrorist group tried to sabotage the opening festival. Our characters found the plot and helped intervene to prevent most of the damage, but couldn’t find and diffuse all the bombs before they went off. In the aftermath, Seraphine’s cousin died. His cousin’s twin sister, Asira, went mad with lust for revenge, to the point of hurting anyone who tried to get in her way, including civilians and classmates, which landed her in jail until she could calm down and process her grief.

    Unfortunately, Asira had other ideas, learned how to self-combust, and went onto be an arc villain. This scene takes place shortly before she broke out of jail, when we were still trying to help her recover. Seraphine – the girl dressed in grey – is a firebender, and Asira’s cousin. She belongs to my friend Sarina. Asira herself is an npc, and our DM is my friend Theele. My character is the airbender in the back, named Sora. I had a conversation with Asira as well, in the second half of this scene, but I had to stop illustrating here for the sake of time. I originally drew this comic as a birthday gift for Sarina, and wanted to share it here as well, now that it’s done!

    Figuring out how to illustrate a comic and handle the workflow of the sketching, panel layout, inking, flat colors, and lighting for each shot was a huge learning curve. I’m sure I could have been far more efficient with this if I had chosen a different method of rendering that didn’t require me to blend every layer individually, or used more copy-paste to transfer details from one panel to another. You can see how the quality drifts between pages as I both learned a better process and lost my patience haha. Rendering the effects of the spectral flames was also a fun challenge, because neither Seraphine nor Asira can really see them. During this scene, Sora used her spirit-seeing ability to watch Seraphine’s aura and monitor her emotions, to make sure she wasn’t growing too volatile, which is what the various wisps of fire and particle effects are meant to represent. I had a lot of fun drawing this comic all the same, and there are so many other moments I’d love to bring to life in the future.

    Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed the story, even though it was out of context. Let me know if you’d be interested in hearing any more DnD stories in the future! I’ve been in a half dozen campaigns and there are many more antics to share. Also feel free to leave recommendations for post topics! I’m looking to fill up my queue for the coming months and I want to hear what you want to see me cover. If you feel so generously inclined, you can support my writing (and other creative endeavors) by leaving me a tip on my Kofi or donating using the secure box below. Until next time, thanks for reading and happy writing!

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    Chatting · Misc. Creative Projects

    The Making of a Mistcloak, part 2: Creating and Community

    There comes a time in the life of any maker that one has more good encouragement than good sense. These moments, when enthusiastic friends push you to do the wild, half-planned idea, far outside of your comfort zone – these are the projects that one remembers most fondly. If you’ve noticed me taking a bit of a detour from my usual writing fare, I hope these tangents don’t deter you from coming with me on this creative journey. Seldom does fiction occur in a vacuum, unaffected by the author’s other interests, and seldom does Making Stuff occur in a vacuum, devoid of influence from other creative friends. Your life becomes more interesting as you become more well-rounded, and I’m a firm believer that the same goes for your fictional worlds.

    Is this a lengthy excuse for inflicting you with my latest fan project? Yes. Yes, it is. But this is my slice of the internet and I’ve spent altogether too much time and money on this project not to show it off literally everywhere. There’s a moral in here somewhere, I swear, but in an age of ~Careful Branding~ and ~Targeted Marketing~ I hope it’s more fun to read this blog when it’s just me. Some nerd. Enthusiastically and unashamedly rambling about my self-indulgent hobbies for whoever cares enough to listen. Somehow, doing just that helped me to find all the lovely people who worked on this project with me ❤

    Continue reading “The Making of a Mistcloak, part 2: Creating and Community”
    Chatting · Reading Recs

    Making of a Mistcloak, part 1: Why Vin?

    I owe a lot to Brandon Sanderson. In the summer of 2020, I was three years deep into the worst reading-slump of my life, struggling with anxiety and depression thanks to a combination of university stress, the pandemic, a full-time laboratory job, and living away from home in a strange dead city. My writing was struggling due to lack of time and input to fill up my creative well. I don’t remember a lot of that spring, except that it felt like my head was constantly full of mist.

    I had no idea how much my life would change when I picked up an audiobook of The Way of Kings to help pass the hours doing tedious sample prep. The story of my writing community starts here, two years ago, since it was the same summer I started this website. I owe my eternal thanks to Quinn Siarven for both the excellent book recommendation and moral support for the past several years ❤ Kaladin’s ideals got me through that year, and the next, and the next, as I fell deeper into the Cosmere:

    I picked up the audiobook of The Final Empire this past summer, at another lab job, doing boring sample prep again, and immediately grew attached to Vin’s character. I wish I had picked up this book in high school, because I relate to this awkward, intense teen altogether too much. Reading about her struggles was like reading about my slightly younger self, and I want to scoop her up in a hug. It also shocked me just how many of my OCs are incredibly similar to Vin, carrying paranoia, too much trauma, great skill, and grander callings on their young shoulders.

    Beyond that, The Final Empire is also just so much fun?? As much as post-apocalyptic hell-scapes can be fun, that is. Kelsier brings such an entertaining energy to the page, and his beacon of hope resonated with those deeper themes that have always been the source of my love for these series. The “learning to fly” scenes are always my favorite, since I’ve been a little kid I’ve always dreamed of taking off into the wild blue yonder and leaving my problems behind, and there’s no small part of wish fulfillment in this costume bringing me a little closer to launching myself into the sky. The dynamics with the rest of the crew are so wholesome, and Sazed was my favorite by far.

    You can’t talk about a Sanderson book without touching on the magic systems and worldbuilding. The planet of Scadriel works on three sets of rules: Allomancy, Feurochemy, and Hemalurgy, all of which play crucial roles in the plot and weave together with the characters to tie them into a prophecy much bigger than themselves. It’s an intricately crafted world full of history as multifaceted as our own world. I loved how many religions are described, because that’s a part of worldbuilding that I often see glossed over, but personally find very interesting, and the discussions of faith and hope are intrinsically woven into the character’s arcs in a way that feels fundamentally natural to how we as humans constantly wonder about why we’re here.

    “The right belief is like a good cloak, I think. If it fits you well, it keeps you warm and safe. The wrong fit however, can suffocate.”

    “But you can’t kill me, Lord Tyrant. I represent that one thing you’ve never been able to kill, no matter how hard you try. I am hope.”

    “Our belief is often strongest when it should be weakest. That is the nature of hope.”

    It goes without saying that I wholeheartedly recommend these books, and I was thrilled to take on a cosplay for Vin. In the future, I’d love to cover other characters from Sanderson’s worlds – perhaps Veil or Vivenna will be up on the list! What’s your favorite Cosmere book? As much as I love the Mistborn trilogy, I have a soft spot for Words of Radiance and how the relationships between Kaladin, the Kholinars, and Shallan all grow and evolve. Maybe I’ll actually get caught up on Sanderson’s books by the time Stormlight 5 comes out, and I’m looking forward to the secret novels next year!

    Next week I’ll be sharing the full process of creating the cloak and how the community I’ve found at school helped me finish such a large project, so check back for that! As always, I am open to suggestion if you have a topic you’d like to see covered! If you feel so generously inclined, you can support my writing (and other creative endeavors) by leaving me a tip on my Kofi or donating using the secure box below. Until next time, thanks for reading and happy writing!

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