Writing Update: Progress Is Not Made, But I Show You Character Art Instead

It’s been a while* since I got on here to tell you about my many beloved projects, so I thought I would do so today. It’s going to be a chill post, the internet equivalent of sitting down with a cuppa and a biscuit and chatting with a friend you haven’t seen in a few months. We’ll have a look at each of my major projects, discuss where I’m up to with each of them, what my goals are with them, and share some snippets and character art!

Let’s get into it!

*Approximately 18 months, to be exact.

The Changeling and the Wolf

This is my baby at the moment. The story of a young and idiotic werewolf, whose brother is a monster hunter. Together they discover an evil cult which is trying to resurrect the long dead tyrant Dark Lord, and it kind of just goes from there.

Pitch The Lord of the Rings x Mistborn x Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban x some dark academia book.

Aesthetic wolves; wolfhounds; dark university; secret societies; candlelit hallways; Celtic monsters; rangers; Victorian Scotland; Gaelic; steaming cups of tea; blood oaths; the full moon; iron; the fae; the Morrigan; ravens; red-heads; Celtic music.

Where is it at? Currently I’m plotting out the second draft. I originally wrote this as a seat of the pants novel in October-December 2020 and I left quite a few hanging threads. Somehow I need to weave it into one cohesive piece. This is going to be my main 2022 project.

Snippets I think I’ve shared a few snippets here before, but here’s some more, because I love embarrassing myself with unedited snippets.

And then, she was gone. Like mist in the sun, she was no longer there. The darkness had fallen, and so had the boy. He lay on the ground, crushed mushrooms wet and sticky against his hands. And he could no longer remember why he was there, or how he had got there. Everything was blank, his mind groping for some kind of answer.
But there was none.
There was nothing except the darkness, and the whispering of trees. Or was that the whispering of the fae and the ghosts? The darkness, the whispers of the long dead. The silvery light of the enormous moon filtering through the dying branches of the autumn trees.
And a flash as the moonlight shone on the teeth of the wolf waiting in the shadows.

“Now, you must sign here,” the president said, handing a fountain pen to Ilio and pushing an inkwell toward him. “And spill a drop of your blood.”
With trembling hands, Ilio signed the book, his name the latest in a parade of names that went back centuries. And then he held out his hand to the president, who swiftly nicked the very tip of his ring finger, the finger with the blood that led to the heart, with an iron knife.
The cut stung much more than it should have and Ilio bit back a cry of pain. And then he watched as the drop of blood fell toward the paper, almost as if time had stopped.
The blood hit the book and blossomed red across the page. And Ilio was sure that he didn’t imagine the hissing sound that followed it, and the small puff of smoke rising from the pages of the Law.
And when he looked up, he was certain that the secretary hadn’t missed the scent of burning paper and blood mingled together either.

Character Art I recently discovered a site called Art Breeder where you can create custom character portraits and it’s super fun to play with, so I’ve been making some of my characters!

Sholo (ID: realistic digital image of a young white man with red hair and freckles)
Skaati (ID: realistic digital image of young black woman with curly brown hair)
Ilio (ID: Realistic digital image of young white man with black hair)

The Infinity Trilogy

I’ve been thinking about my firstborn child quite a lot lately, mainly because some of my friends have been harassing me on Instagram (jk, I love you. I promise I’m not plotting to tear your hearts out with my next book. I wouldn’t be so cruel).

To be frank, I’d given up on my little dystopian trilogy for a while. It seemed an impossible sell. Dystopian is not currently in fashion, due the spectacular way it crashed and burned in the mid 2010s, and Christian fiction is a hard sell to trad secular publishers, and Christian publishers seem to be mainly interested in his-fic, fantasy, and romance.

But I just can’t let go of it, and I feel like that’s a divine message of some sort (either that, or I’m just super stubborn. Either is possible). A lot of famous and well-written books took years, even decades, to get published, and while I’m certainly not putting my little scribblings on the level of LOTR, there’s still hope.

So that’s where we’re at with the Infinity trilogy. I’m not currently making any active plans for editing or pitching, but just going with the flow.

Pitch Hunger Games x Les Miserables x A Tale of Two Cities x The Giver

Aesthetic blood staining concrete, red flag, dirty rivers, government surveillance, student rebellions, economic collapse, broken footpaths, broken hearts, children scrabbling for survival, runaways, criminals, family secrets.

Where is it at? Explained above

Snippets (Mainly Zac snippets because I unashamedly love him)

When we reached the veranda, he [Zac] suddenly turned around on me, held my hand fiercely and whispered, “I meant every word I said, Chessy. I would give my life for you…”

“Justice has never loved me, I don’t think he ever will. And I’m fine with that. I got over it a long time ago.”

“I won’t argue for Joshua’s motives or feelings back then. A long time ago, as you put it. but I will tell you that now he is very much in love with you now. I have the rare ability to see into someone’s soul.”

“You do not,” I replied, trying to keep my head from spinning. “I can’t decide how much of your drunken rambling is truth.”…“Does Joshua really love me?”

Zac winced visibly. “Yes. I asked him once, and he said no, but he meant yes.”

I [Justice] felt panic begin to rise in my chest. “Zac, Zac, what are you doing?” it was becoming difficult to breathe. Difficult to think. Difficult to keep my eyes open. What was he doing?

“If it were otherwise…” Zac hesitated.

I tried to write, but the words blurred and shifted on the page, the letters moving about of their own free will. rearranging themselves into nonsense words. To my dismay, I could feel the pen falling from my hand, but I could do nothing about it. “There is…there is definitely…” I began.

Then my head cleared. He is drugging me. I sprang to my feet, knocking backwards the chair as I did so. “Zac—”

Character Art Again, some fun little things I made. I just don’t understand why all the boys end up looking the same? I don’t know if its the fault of the site, or if I just do not have any imagination when it comes to the way my boys look.

Justice (ID: realistic digital image of a young white man with short dark brown hair)
Quillon, who ended up looking ugly no matter how I tried to make him. I guess he goes through a rough time?? (ID: realistic digital image of a young white man with long curly black hair)
Chessy’s appearance changes drastically between drafts, but here’s what she looked like originally (ID: realistic digital image of a young white woman with blond hair)

Moon King, Star Queen

Pictures not Mine

My second born, and my trouble child (the second born is always a little rebellious). Also was previously known as Wattle Fires, but decided to change her name (*rolls eyes*) because Drama Queen.

Anyway, this little trouble child has been plaguing me lately for attention, and I have to keep gently explaining that I have a lot of things to do. Small plots to look after, etc. I’m only being semi-successful though and I think I will end up doing some work on this one before the year is out.

Pitch Game of Thrones x English Civil War x Lord of the Rings x Shadow and Bone

Aesthetic Scotland, dragons, lavish royalty, glittering ballgowns, revolution, stammering, bone churches, mist, magic, arranged marriages, found love anyway, reluctant king, ambitious queen, exile.

Where is it at? Stuck between a rock and a hard place at the moment. If you’ve been around since 2018, you’ll know that this was originally an Australian fantasy story. And then it kind of morphed into a weird Polynesian fantasy, and I’ve come round again and decided to set it in more or less the same world as The Changeling and the Wolf, ie a Celtic (Scottish) inspired world. There are a few reasons for this, but the main one was that even after three years of research, I didn’t feel like I could do justice to my Polynesian world. But I love this story too much to scrap it, so I’ve set it in a more familiar (ish) world than fantasy Polynesia.

Snippets

The key turning in the lock woke Courageous from his troubled, nightmare-riddled sleep. He did not stir, even when the sound of boots echoed behind him. “Are you ready, your highness?”
Courageous closed his eyes and still did not respond.
“I expect an answer,” growled the voice. “Are you ready?”
“Ready for what?” Courageous asked, his voice dull and toneless.
There was a pause. “Your execution.”
Courageous sat up, suddenly remembering everything that happened yesterday. His sentence…his uncle’s death…his own imminent death by beheading.
A shudder ran through him as a cold draught touched his cheek. “Yes. I’m ready.” He shivered again, and then looked up at the soldier. “Get me another shirt. I don’t want them to see me shivering and think that I’m afraid.”

The knife slices Courageous’ face, it’s slender blade leaving a thread of blood across his skin.

“If you’re the Divine King, the gods are obviously dead. They couldn’t have chosen you.”
“Courageous.” Yilla climbed onto the podium and took his arm. “Courageous, we should go. It would be better for everyone.”
“Yes, go! Listen to what the lady says.”
Sobs rose in his chest, threatening to break out in front of the hostile city. Sobs of equal parts anger and terror. He left the podium and was escorted back to the palace, the soldiers surrounding him, and the echo of their jeers ringing in his ear.
As soon as he stormed into his chambers, ready to lock the door, throw himself on the floor and cry, Baron Tribulation approached him. “Your Majesty,” he said, bowing stiffly to the enraged and trembling king. “Eloucera has declared war upon us. We are embroiled in civil conflict now.”

Character Art Some more character art! Again, observe, all the men look the same.

Courageous (he actually has long hair, but Artbreeder doesn’t let you change the length of the hair, without changing gender as well) [ID: realistic digital image of a young white man with curly dark brown hair]
Repent [ID: realistic digital image of a middle aged white man with dark brown hair and short beard]
High-Praise [ID: realistic digital image of a young woman with tanned skin and long black hair]

The Dancer’s Handbook of Love and Other Illnesses

To continue with the family/child theme, this is my newborn, and a rather colicky, fretful young babe she is.

The Dancer’s Handbook was conceived last year after reading Sick Kids In Love, and it’s my first attempt at a contemporary YA novel. And don’t let the genre fool you, contemporary is hard. Very hard.

Pitch Sick Kids in Love x The Other Side of Perfect x Radio Silence

Aesthetic tap shoes, laughter, hospital rooms, theatre kids, ambition, reach for the stars, myths, cryptozoology, coffee with little hearts in chocolate powder, 50s dresses, black and white movie stars, disabled kids finding love, disabled kids finding identity

Where is it at? Currently an unfinished first draft, which I might be able to finish in the next few months if I get my butt in gear and sit down and do it.

Snippets

Jordan nods slowly, glancing down into his coffee before looking up again. “That must be tough to deal with.”
I shrug, then shake my head. “It’s not really. It’s not that bad. Heaps of other people have it worse.”
He meets my eyes and holds my gaze. “So? You’re allowed to find something hard, even if other people ‘have it worse’”. He leans across the table to me. “It’s not the suffering Olympics, Eliza.”

It only distracts me for a few minutes, before a sharp pain shoots through my ankle, something akin to what I imagined being shot would be like. I hiss, then immediately jerk up my facade again. Despite the fact that everyone in this waiting room is here for one reason—muscular-skeletal pain—to show actual signs of pain is off-limits. It makes people uncomfortable.

I hesitate for only a second, then I press the send icon. A soft whoosh tells me that my missive is on it’s way. A moment later, the app tells me that Jordan has opened my message. Then the three little dots that mean he’s typing pop up, bouncing up and down at the bottom of the screen, as if they’re taunting me.
I stare at them for a moment, and then, just as suddenly as they appeared, they vanish. I see that Jordan is now offline, and I feel a little rush of relief.
And guilt.

Character Art

Tara [ID: realistic digital image of a young Asian woman with long black hair]
Eliza. It looks faux-50s, I guess? [ID: realistic digital image of a young white woman with platinum blond hair and lots of makeup]
Jordan [ID: realistic digital image of young white man with long black hair]

Beneath a Starlit Sky

Another particularly tricky child, headstrong, like Mere, the main character herself. So far, BASS has been a failed NaNoWriMo novel for like, two years in a row? Three years? I’m wondering if I should go for a four year streak this April?

Anyway, yes, BASS has been causing me some trouble and I’m not really sure why so I have to mull it over a bit more and maybe listen to some more piratey seafaring music for inspo.

Pitch Pirates of the Caribbean x Captain Cook x William Dampier x the Legend of Grainne Mhaol.

Aesthetic fabled lands made of gold, dolphins, botany, pirates, parrots, tropical islands, exploration, canvas sails, compasses, brooding navigators, science

Where is it at? Currently an unfinished draft, sitting around 25k words. Probably a quarter done. Who knows when it’ll be finished.

Snippets

Another silence, but this one a thick, maroon silence. It only lasted a heartbeat. “I’m goin’ away, Mere.” His voice picked up a hint of its former accent. The sturdy, heavy accent that belonged to the highland people we’d once been, the accent that his tutor had hit out of him three years ago. “I put in a contract to become botanist on the Cygnet.” Another horrible pause. “The ship that’s leaving in three months. On a voyage of discovery.” Gabe stopped, then he suddenly scrambled to his feet and the clatter of his pencil and the dull thump of his notebook hitting the roof tiles. “For goodness sake, Mere! Say something!”
So I did.
“Take me with you.” The words were out before I was even conscious that they’d formed in silvery coils on my tongue. But once they’d escaped into the mist around me, I knew I couldn’t take them back.
More over, I don’t know that I wanted to.

With frantic desperation, I managed to collect every piece of paper and rifle through them, until I finally found the one I was looking for. The one which had my name—or my pseudonym anyway—in bold black letters scrawled across the top of the page.
Dear Mr Smithers,
We are delighted to inform you that your application has been successful and that you have been chosen to accompany Mr Gabriel Atkins upon a voyage of scientific discovery to the New World aboard the ship, The Orca. Attached you shall find miscellaneous notes regarding your voyage and your position. Please report to the office of the Institute of Science at your earliest convenience.
I let out an unholy scream of pure pleasure and clutched the papers to my chest like a small, exuberant child. And then I fled to my room, ready to pack and go.
I was going to become a botanist, and people were damn well going to respect me.

And they were damn well going to know my name.

Character Art

Gabe [ID: a realistic digital image of a young white man with curly blond hair]
Roe [ID: Realistic digital image of a young white man with black hair and facial hair]
Mere [ID: realistic digital image of a young white woman with bright red hair]

How are your projects doing? What are you working on at the moment? What’s your favourite thing about it? And, most importantly, do you have a favourite character you need to squeal about? I’m all ears!

8 thoughts on “Writing Update: Progress Is Not Made, But I Show You Character Art Instead

  1. Tale of the Cattail Forest- for sure, not letting go of that; considering that I am at the final edits of its 6th draft

    Lizzy the Lizard- much harder to write than you think; it is tricky; how do you write so much plot in so little space? I mean, it’s a picture book- I had to pause in the middle of its 1st draft due to being stuck and having to get back to TofTC

    Greatest Discovery- for sure, a tricky child? Hard to develop and brainstorm- yes, have the plot idea, but only know the middle and end, and know my protagonists the most

    Expansive World Idea- A tricky child indeed? Zero plot, but know bits of the world and the protagonist’s name; can’t get further than that

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That titles is a roller coaster…
    Writing Update: 🙂
    Progress Is Not Made: 😦
    But I Show You Character Art Instead: 😀
    But if that doesn’t describe the creative writing progress then I don’t know what does. Lovely artwork! Artbreeder is amazing for creating character concepts!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ack they are all so PRETTY. *isn’t mad at all that there is character art instead of progress*

    “It’s not the suffering Olympics, Eliza.” I love that so much. I love ALL YOUR STORIES SO MUCH.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, these are so great! Progress is slow but steady on my current WIPs. Mostly editing, lots of outlining, some actual writing. 😂 Btw, I nominated you for the Single Story Line Challenge if you are interested!

    Liked by 1 person

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