AAAHHHHHHH!!!!!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAHHHH

Wow okay.  So I’m back.  It turns out when you get pregnant and then get a full-time job teaching eighth grade English, it doesn’t leave a lot of time for blogging.  I’m still teaching, but now I’m doing it in North Dakota.  Yeah, I move a lot.  But I finally have time to blog because it’s summer vacation.  Woo.

Also, my son is adorable just so you know.   I don’t want to post his picture on the Internet, so here’s an artist’s rendition instead:

He has one dimple. It's adorable.

In 18 years, if he consents, I’ll put up a baby picture.  If our robot overlords allow it.

As a mother, I am thrilled.  He is awesome.

As a mother with anxiety, I am terrified constantly.  What if he like… you know… tries things?  Like when he grows up and stuff… he might want to do something.  That freaks me out.  So I’m considering writing a line of children’s books for anxious mothers to read to their young kids.  Titles will include:

The Little Engine That Stayed Within Its Means

Content George

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Who Nonetheless Understood the Value of Portion Control

Maybe I’ll write those one day.  In the meantime, I’ve got a lot of reading to do.  I just returned from the 2017 SCBWI conference in LA, and boy do I have a stack of books.  As such, I think I will herald my return with a series of SCBWI book reviews.  These will be short posts about the books I purchased while at the conference.  A brief preview of the titles to come:

George by Alex Gino

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

And more!

So keep an eye out because I’m back, and I’m ignoring the fact that I stopped mid-project when last I wrote.  I’ll leave the posts up because whatever, but I’m thinking this blog is going to need to be organized in some way.  There are sooooo many posts.  They maybe need to be culled.  Yet another project for another time.

Toodles for now!

P.S. Happy Birthday, Micah!!!

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Character Bible Part 3 – Rath*

I’m going to say right here and now that I am not going to be updating very frequently (as if you couldn’t already tell) because I’m ghostwriting a novel at the moment.  Writing a full-length novel is pretty tiring, so I don’t exactly finish my work for the day and then go, “Boy, I can’t wait to sit down and compose a blog post!”  It’s more like, “Boy, I can’t wait to just lie here like a damp potato until I get hungry enough to roll out of bed and forage for food in the fridge!”  Plus there’s the constant fear that this book idea won’t hold up, and then I’ll have done all these posts for nothing.  You know, the usual stuff.

That being said, here’s what I know about Rath*, whose name absolutely needs to change.  It was supposed to be a play on “wrath” with the inclusion of “Ra,” because he was originally supposed to be some sort of shadowy memory of the Egyptian sun god.  It’s a long story, but basically the first idea of this book was that this “planet” would be occupied by ancient ideas that had lost power.  Something really dumb like that.  I abandoned that idea long ago, so “Rath” has to go.

My inspiration for Rath* came from a couple different sources.  His look and personality is a little bit based on characters like the Prock from The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles (no picture available) and a demon from The Phantom Tollbooth known as the Terrible Trivium.  Pictured here:

Terrible Trivium

The running theme is we have a well-dressed, smooth-talking, third-hyphenated-descriptor type of character.  Now, since I decided that we’re looking at a slave race on a prison planet, the “well dressed” bit probably has to go.  But I still see Rath* as a smooth character who is a natural leader and who easily takes things in stride without showing fear or doubt.  That’s why he’s the leader of the wee rebel group.

Joss throws a wrench into things for just this reason.  Because she becomes like a daughter to Rath*, (I’m gonna stop putting asterisks on his name because I think you get it) she makes him start second guessing himself.  Some of the rebels in their group actually see Joss as a weakness, and they resent her for turning their leader soft.  They still work with her, of course, but there is underlying tension.  This is one of the ways I’m going to attempt to avoid the Mary Sue cliche with Joss.

Rath and another character, Thea, have basically the same origin story.  Rath is part Delliakite, and Thea is all Delliakite (You’ll see her later).  They came from the same cell block, as it were.  I wrote out a tentative backstory for them, but it’s too much like District 13 from The Hunger Games, so I’m reworking it.  Basically they tried to rebel and it had horrible consequences so they ran away together to live off of the Overseer’s radar.

I don’t have concept art for Rath because I am really bad at drawing at the best of times, and drawing a human/alien hybrid is probably beyond my ability.  I’m afraid he’ll come out too cartoony.  Maybe I’ll attempt it one day, but today is not that day.

Oh, Rath has powers.  Unlike Paxton, the loser.  It’s unclear how much of this is just really good psychological manipulation and how much is really happening, but he has shadow powers.  He can disappear into shadow and manipulate shadow so that it gets really dark in certain areas, and he can use shadows to grab people and trap their legs and stuff.  He’s kind of like a phantom in that way, where he plays on people’s fears.  But heart of gold blah blah blah.

At some point in the story, Rath gets captured and put in the super scary prison thing.  I’ve been calling it “the tomb.”  It’s basically where prisoners get a small probe on their heads that traps them in their own minds, slowly driving them crazy.  They’re sealed into closet-sized rooms and left there for indeterminate periods of time.  Rumor has it (in the book) that the inventor of the brain device tested it on himself, and went insane as a result.

Anyway, so Rath gets captured, and it just so happens that Paxton’s mom ended up in the same prison.  So the rest of the gang has a reason to work together with Paxton.  See how that works?  And then Paxton’s mom can stay alive so he doesn’t have the typical superhero origin story.

Okay that’s enough for today.  Next time maybe I’ll do Thea so you know what a Delliakite is.  I can already tell you that ensemble casts are hard, so I’m probably going to axe a character or two.  We’ll see.

Bye for now!

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Character Bible Part 2 – Paxton

Five years on WordPress.  Wow.  Maybe one day I’ll do something with my life.

Anyway, at time of writing I don’t have any concept art for Paxton and I don’t know if I will by the time I post.  I’ve been dealing with a stomach bug for several days and it’s kind of been making creative endeavors difficult.  That being said, I will do my best to draw something by the time this post goes up or shortly after.

Paxton is the other protagonist for this book – meaning the narrative follows him when it isn’t following Joss – and he is human.  Here is what I wrote for his entry in the character bible document:

Name: Paxton (Fun fact: I named him this because “Pax” means peace and he is not peaceful!  Irony!)

Age in Earth Years: 18

Species: Human

Powers:
None LOL

Backstory:
Paxton lives in one of the old prisoner sectors with his mother.  His father mysteriously skipped off work one night when Paxton was six or seven.  The Enforcers later found him and killed him with no explanation, but Paxton continued to believe that his father didn’t just try to run and abandon the family.  He is right.  Paxton’s father discovered the truth – that the communications system on the planet works just fine.  The Overseer purposefully keeps it jammed in order to maintain control.

When Paxton comes of age, he knows he will be assigned a job like his mother.  Instead he decides to go over to the enemy’s side, becoming an Enforcer so he and his mother can have a better life.  A part of him also hopes he will learn more about his father’s arrest and death.  He eventually does learn this, right before joining the rebellion and sharing what he knows.

[This section omitted to prevent major spoilers.  I want to keep something a mystery.]

Appearance:
Black hair, olive skin, green eyes.  Tall and muscular.  Clean shaven.  Hard lines in his face.  Serious like Kocoum.

Kocoum is that one dude from Disney’s Pocahontas?  Yeah?  He’s too serious?  Alright moving on.

When I initially created Paxton, I didn’t want him to be the typical YA male hero.  Yes, he is full of angst, but I feel I did go in some interesting directions with him.  I made him ruthless and determined, so he ends up killing a woman on his first day as an Enforcer and then imprisoning one of his old neighbors.  I also made him bury all of his emotional problems somewhere deep inside of him, so he often finds an outlet in meaningless sex with his female coworkers.  I say “meaningless” for lack of a better word.  Basically he isn’t looking for a relationship with them.  He is having sex for sex’s sake.  Nothing wrong with that except when you’re using the sex as an outlet for your repressed emotions maybe.

Moving forward with the story, I’d like to keep this trend going.  I want to push him even more, have Paxton join the Enforcers because a part of him accepts that he wants power and security, and they are the ones who have it.  Yes they took his father, but they also don’t have to sleep with one eye open (usually), and they live in nice flats, and they get to eat food whenever they want.  So he believes the good outweighs the bad and throws himself into the work.  Until he gets in too deep.   And, of course, learning the truth about his father is kind of that breaking point that snaps him out of it.

My goal for him is to make him exist in a gray area for a while.  He’s not going to be an undoubtedly Good character, and he will have to redeem himself for a lot of misdeeds.  Paxton is a character who feels that the world is on his shoulders and he lives very much for himself because he thinks it’s the safest way to be.  Meeting the rebel group and Joss might change that for him, give him a different cause to fight for and a reason to redeem himself.

Oh, and since his dad is already dead, I am determined not to kill his mom (spoiler alert?).  I realize why heroes lose their parents so often now that I’m plotting out this story, because it would honestly be so much easier for Paxton to run away and join the rebellion if he didn’t have familial connections to worry about.  But I think I’ve come up with another way to make it work that doesn’t involve killing his mom.  Yay.

Okay so I sorta did some concept art, which you will see below.  It’s not as detailed as Joss’ for several reasons.

  1. I am better at drawing female figures than male.
  2. Along those lines, I couldn’t find a male reference that I liked to base my drawing off of, so I had to go from scratch despite not having any formal art training, which you will soon see.  Feel free to scoff at my inability to make proportions work.  I scoff at myself all the time.  Chances are I’m doing it right now.
  3. Humans are boring.  You know what they look like.

So I just kinda decided to sketch out some of the armor ideas I had?

Paxton 1Paxton 2Paxton 3

He looks straight out of Starship Troopers, huh?  I knew I’d gotten inspiration somewhere.

So those prongs on his arm come out of the standard-issue gauntlets.  They’re electrified when active, but they fold back into the gauntlet when not in use.  At the risk of drawing a face, I decided to give him a helmet with a visor.  Clever me.  And of course he’s got big, clompy space boots.  Gotta have the big, clompy space boots.  They have secret compartments and stuff.  He also has a standard-issue MWt-500 laser gun holstered at his hip.

And this is what he would look like if he were a butterfly with a suggestively open shirt!

Paxton Butterfly

That’s all I’ve got!  Tune in next time for an actual alien!

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