My next big fantasy, “Blood Princess” (working title) will require a full world map 😉 So, decided to make one from scratch.
Now, I’m no geologist, but I know just a taaad about continental drift.
I started with an oval of the world, drew some fault lines, and then had some land mass bleed out onto the earth. Things begin to drift, collide, create mountains and continents, leaving islands in their wake…
I know I wanted a big “main” continent, so there it is smack in the middle, while the smaller continents are there on the sides. I’m not sure if I gave the world enough water, though
Taking the poles and equator into equation, I painted in some deserts, icy wastelands, forests, mountains, and it’s good to go!
Suuure, I could have just painted any old land mass and gone with that, but I thought doing it in a somewhat more scientific way would be more fun 😀
Eventually, I’ll fill out a fair portion with land marks and cities, but for now…hey, it’s a map of the world!
Here’s a gif of the process 🙂
Of course, you can do this in a much more low-tech, kid-friendly way with some construction paper, scissors, and glue 😀 Use some blue paper as the sea, cut about 1/3 the size out of green paper, cut a jagged outline for pangaea, cut that up, and rearrange over the sea for your own world map!
I asked my amazeballs artist buddy Brandon Lacey (who designed The Cycle of the Six Moons cover art, check ’em out here!) to come up with some character concept for an upcoming high fantasy “Blood Princess” (working title).
Here are two main characters, Khalida and Lake (with Astra).
Khalida is, well, a princess. A chubby–albeit beautiful–princess. Lake is her mentor who has an animal familiar named Astra. In the exercise below, I wrote her as a “falcon,” but I’m open to changes since, again, this is all very early concept. Brandon drew her with some beautiful plumage, which I am aaabsoooluuutely fine with.
I think Khalida’s design was easiest for both of us to come to an agreement. The fiery colors just work for her.
Lake’s colors took some playing with, but I like the result here 😀
As a writing exercise centered around the word “hot,” I wrote this fun piece that, in some way, will probably end up in the final story.
Steaming, jasmine foam trickled down the sides of Lake’s body onto the hot stone slab beneath him. He nearly inhaled a mouthful of bubbles when the attendant splashed cool water over his back. The shock rejuvenated him with all the energy he needed for the nighttime festivities ahead. Lake’s pulse quickened as he mentally rehearsed his performance with Astra. His golden falcon shimmered beneath the bathhouse’s geometric dome ceiling, and her amber eyes blinked lazily as she watched the cloud of soap disappear from her master’s head.
Fully rinsed, Lake ran his fingers over his exfoliated arms. His skin was reddened from all the scrubbing, but it was smoother than he could ever recall. However, the delights were his only, as soon enough, his ceremonial robes would cover every inch of his body.
“Let us dry off in here,” he called to Astra. She swooped down from the ceiling and into the hot chamber next door.
Once he left the washroom, the water on Lake’s body began to evaporate. He threw on his sheer under robes, which immediately stuck to his skin. As he smoothed out the wrinkles and fastened his belt, Astra rose to the ceiling to gulp cooler air. Lake would have to hurry back to his quarters before the heat overcame him and he would want to take another bath.
Thinking of the crimson robes hanging in his wardrobe, Lake waved to his falcon. “Come, Astra.”
A high voice gasp came from above. “Lake, it is you!”
Already startled from a girl’s voice, Lake slipped on the tile when he saw stubby, tan fingers folded through the holes of the geometric ceiling. A pair of large, emerald eyes peered back at him.
“Your Highness!” Lake sputtered.
This time, heat of embarrassment washed over him. He covered himself as modestly as he could, scrambling back to the washroom and out of the princess’s sight. Astra remained by the ceiling of the hot chamber, munching on a newt that Khalida had slipped her. Khalida’s giggles echoed into the room, and the bemused attendant watched Lake with a dripping bucket in hand.
“Your Highness!” Lake spat, more sternly this time. “Do you realize how improper this is?! To climb the men’s bathhouse! To see me in such a state!”
A giggle rang in each of Khalida’s words. “What are you going to do? Tell my mother?”
Lake’s voice deepened gravely. “How much did you see?”
“Oh, Lake, I told you, the only birthday gift I wanted from you was to see your face. I knew you were handsome! Come out so I can see you again.”
Lake could feel his whole head swelling with blood. Anyone could see through his sheer robes, but the princess was so naïve that maybe the only thing she cared about seeing was his face.
The attendant inched closer to him, wearing an expression that said, “Is that Princess Khalida?” Lake nodded to him.
“A very happy birthday to you, Your Highness,” Lake called to her. “Now, please, would you allow me some privacy so you may see me again fully clothed? And please take caution in climbing down the roof.”
Khalida giggled. “Certainly! Thank you, Lake! I’ll see you later.”
The men stood in silence as Khalida blew a kiss at Astra. They heard rustling in the trees overhead as Khalida jumped off the roof and climbed out of sight.
Lake exhaled all the air in his lungs and slouched forward. The under robes adhered so closely to his drenched body that bubbles formed beneath the cloth. Lake started to peel the robes off and told the attendant, “I need another rinse.”
Throughout February, I created mockup covers for my next book, The House with Two Faces (which I guess I should abbreviate to HTF, like I did with CSM). For the first few days, I kept adding and changing things, then added and changed more covers.
Here’s what the first poll looked like:
1, 3, and 4 got the most votes. A lot of people chose #1, I suppose because of its adherence to the title and its simple vector style which is similar to The Cycle of the Six Moons covers. But I wanted to make sure that this book has nothing to do with CSM, so I wanted to stray away from that.
I still liked #2, though, mostly because of how it has to do with “magic!” and those who actually read the synopsis made good points about the second cover.
So then, instead of narrowing down the results, I offered a bunch of alternatives.
In the end, it came down to 3 and 4.
So I offered even more alternatives by making #1 look more art deco with the corner pieces and the font, and I liked the red I added to her face, so I added that to #2.
BUT IT WAS STILL MISSING THE MAGICAL ASPECT. So then I did THIS
And I really liked #3 because of magic and 20s buuuut still, the votes were super close between #1 and #2.
I gathered 357 votes total.
That put #1 at 44%, #2 at 38%, and #3 at 18%.
#1 was preferred by high school and middle school students, as well as girls.
#2 was preferred by people my age and older, as well as boys.
So, in the end, I guess we’re going with this one.
Which is actually my least favorite cover ’cause I just don’t prefer photographic images of faces on covers 😅
Anyway, this isn’t a “final mockup” cover. It’s just what I’m going to use when I post the first three chapters on Wattpad so I can get beta readers 🙂
In The Last Winter Moon, Jayse pulls Michelle — disgruntled from injustice — onto the back of a korelian cat, and they race up the steps of the Arriscylean palace. He pulls her off and tells her, “You’re beautiful when you’re scared.” She laughs, and Jayse says, “You’re even more beautiful when you smile.”
This almost didn’t make it into the final book, for reasons similar to changing a line of Dastin’s in An Eclipsing Autumn, which was something like, “Smile for me,” which I thought was so unforgivable that I just had to change it. (Telling women to smile is a whole ‘nother problem, though.)
I took special care in crafting Michelle and Jayse’s relationship. When I brought up having second thoughts about this line (“You’re beautiful”) to my friends this past summer, one of them asked me how close Michelle and Jayse’s relationship is to my ideal relationship. I said that it was pretty close, at least for a sixteen-year-old girl, like Michelle is by the end of her journey. It was what I would have wanted when I was sixteen. A life of adventure, danger, and maybe just a little bit of romance, and when it really comes down to it, saving the world is the most important thing, and romance won’t get in the way.
Michelle and Jayse’s relationship is supportive, playful, innocent, and sweet, but never really sexual. Heck, I was pretty prudish when I was sixteen (same as you see in Michelle’s disgust toward Dreana’s seduction). I wanted to write a relationship that I would have wanted when I was her age. I didn’t want to have to force sex into their relationship to make it more realistic, or whatever, because Michelle and Jayse know the stakes of their duties. They know they can’t just make out all day, forgetting the horrors of the world, because they just want to lie next to each other and stare into each other’s eyes.
When it really comes down to it, I suppose it’s a sort of message to young readers. Not all romantic relationships have to be physical and sexual. Don’t give up your duties and ambitions for someone else who’s going to change you and make you forget them. I wanted to send a nice, healthy message with their relationship, instead of romanticizing something unhealthy and abusive.
Sure, there is physical attraction in their relationship. You see it all over Michelle’s thoughts when she first meets Jayse. She even blurts out “Oh my God, you are so hot” the first time they speak. (I don’t really count this toward any kind of profession of love, because he doesn’t even know what it means :’D And her “you’re hot”s to Gediyon don’t count.)
A few times, Jayse says stuff like, “I didn’t see Goddess Saei, but I don’t need to,” and looks at Michelle, “I suppose the wait was worth it” and “I think you beat me in that competition” (in regards to a silly game they were playing to see who’d show up to dinner the prettiest) and at the end of The Starriest Summer, says, “You look magnificent.” BUT, he hadn’t said outright that he thinks she’s pretty.
I did this on purpose because I didn’t want their relationship to be based on physical attraction. He finds her cheerfulness and optimism sweet and adorable. Once she finds out more and starts to break under the pressure, he’s right there to keep her on her feet. He falls in love with her when they find out how much they have in common with their unwanted responsibilities, and they work together to support each other.
Same with Michelle. Sure, she’s immediately smitten by him from his looks, but she’s more interested in a friendship with him, and it’s not until after she loses the Prince Imposter that she realizes she might have romantic feelings for Jayse, too. As her adventure goes on, she also comments less on his looks, and even manages not to freak out and not get a nosebleed when he’s shirtless in An Eclipsing Autumn. (Also, him being bloody and having nearly died might also have something to do with it…)
And then there’s this scene in The Last Winter Moon.
She’s just whatever when he’s lying in the hot spring, cleaning himself off, and then when he jumps up to kiss her, she’s like, “Oh… oh this is happening. OH GOD I DON’T THINK I CAN HANDLE.”
Anyway, the point is, I didn’t know if I wanted to keep the line “you’re beautiful” in the final version of the book. However, my friend said, “It’s already been established that their attraction toward each other isn’t based solely on looks, so saying ‘you’re beautiful’ is just a nice assurance that he thinks so.”
I had thought of changing the line to, “You’re adorable when you’re scared,” but after my friend told me that, I was convinced it wasn’t as impactful.
She then asked me, if Michelle and Jayse have the ideal relationship, then what about Gediyon and Dreana? And I said, “Oh, they’re adults, they can do whatever the hell they want.”
Also, what’s with Michelle glowing and having white hair and reaching down toward Jayse in the picture at the beginning of the post? 1) Read The Last Winter Moon 😉 2) The scene doesn’t actually happen. It was just an image in my head that I wanted to illustrate 😀
I’ve been uploading quote art for The Last Winter Moon on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the past twenty-ish days, as a countdown until The Last Winter Moon’s official release! You can catch ’em all in one go right here 😀
I love researching how to “do something,” especially when I’m bored at work, so of course when I decided to make a trailer for The Cycle of the Six Moons, I searched all over Google for various ideas. I wanted to document my process in case it might help someone else, so here it is!