Tag Archives: fantasy

From coniferous forest to….

Currently pausing forward progress on my novel rough draft by going back and readjusting/revising generic mountainous forest setting description to…this.

Aka I did my research wrong in the beginning and I need to go back and adjust several chapters to be more awesome.

(Current wordcount: 245k)

The Vampire in the Maze

Enter the Vampire. (Mwahaha.) And here we get introduced to the fantastical element of the story. And here we see she is wearing clothes that fit.

And here are the last two pages.

So the comic “serialized” for a grand, small total of 11 weeks before I reached an unfortunate end.  There were many factors involved in why I couldn’t continue. One of them being the simple fact that scanner access was rather awkward to obtain in my situation in France.  I did a few pages before losing the courage necessary to push myself on other people’s computers, scanners, programs.  Instead I took to digitally fingerpainting pages to pass the time until I could return to the States.

But my last months in France were exceptionally hard for me, emotionally.  I found myself in a dark place that lasted months, if not years after I’d returned.  And because of all the struggles I was facing, I found myself unable to return to a lot of the projects I was working on at the time of the trauma.  The reminder was harrowing. I just couldn’t deal.  But even as I found myself forced to abandon things, I couldn’t understand why it was too hard for me to continue.  I gathered up the last strength I had, finished my degree, though all the skills I was using on a daily basis to do so were every bit as painful as the rest.  I guess I streamlined and got through, finding new, unrelated projects to carry me through the difficult days.

It’s fascinating to me now, how creating can both bring bright joy or bitter pain. Life is so complicated–and yet so simple.  And all of that is contained in just a few pages of amateur art.

The Maze of Mirrors

If you want to see page 07 in digital fingerpaint, it’s here. I can’t find it on my computer, hrm.

I was so happy with these pages when I finished them.  I learned from my earlier mistakes and tried to keep my inking simple and not use too many lines.  I realized I couldn’t draw straight lines and tried harder to compensate for that.  I remember being really worried about the mirrors, but I think I did a good job on the reflections, all things considered.  The top hat on page 08 still makes me laugh, and though these pages have a lot of mistakes, I’m still proud of them overall, years later.  The earlier pages make me cringe–these I can at least rest easy when I show them to you.

Clothes + Adventure!

Mmm. Arguing about clothes, wearing hand-me-downs, and little girls who don’t care about all that and just want an adventure!

I added a color version of page 6, as well.  In France I did not have much access to a scanner. I also had loads of free time. So I used said free time downloading a new one-month free trial of a different art program each month…and then I finger-painted. Yes, digital finger-painted, since I did not have a mouse or tablet and just had the touchpad on my laptop.

(Around these pages I realized I could not draw a straight line to save my soul. Apologies that I did not realize this sooner!)

Dream Maze

As many stories do, this short story started as a dream. I didn’t keep the date of the dream, but I had it in 2006, then wrote about it in my dream log. Here’s the first paragraph of that,

I don’t remember all the specifics, but I was going through a room that was like an Arabian palace–close to it. To my left there were two or three people talking–people I knew, but who did not know I was there. They were sitting on creamy silk with a floral design. I think they were talking to me. I think this was one of the many rooms. I was searching for something, yet leisurely, as if exploring. But what I was heading into was a collection of mirrors–a maze of mirrors that rotated at random, opening and closing into themselves except for the path where I was. There was no danger of being hurt by the large shining, glass-like mirrors. I was still aware of the people in the adjoining/open room to my left. I was following a crystal–a pendant at one point in my hand, the next moment it was in the corridor ahead. But either it would twist or I would, and the mirrors would rotate again–shifting, turning. Sometimes those outside could see me, sometimes the reflections reflected only inside/into themselves.

The dream went on and became a vampire story, which I won’t spoil.  Yes, this was before Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight was hugely popular and before the massive vampire influx into pop culture. The generation growing up on Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire had yet to start publishing.

But anyway, so here I had this vampire dream, set in a mirror maze in an Arabian palace, and other elements to the plot were very Jane Austen-like.  So I set down, wrote out a script, tried my hand at some character designs, and then began producing a page per week.  Here are the first three pages. Don’t worry, my art improves! As with the start of any project, the beginning is always the roughest. You still have no idea what you’re doing.

The End of the Maze – Introduction


Title Image
An experiment in graphic storytelling, 2006-07

GeoCities’ death in 2009 interfered with my schemes to archive my life on the Internet.  It came at a very unfortunate time when I was racing to prepare for my mission in Armenia, struggling to finish my translation projects before I left, not to mention saying goodbye to everyone under the sun.  When I found out, the first thing I did was archive as much as I could of one of my best friend’s work. She had passed away in 2008 and I was expecting to be able to read or look at her legacy whenever I wanted, but GeoCities had other plans.

The one good thing to come of the mess, is that now I have the chance to look back and analyze the story, why I started it, what drew me to it, and why I found myself screeching to a halt, suddenly unable to even look at let alone touch the project.  I never realized how emotionally raw something so supposedly innocuous as art could make you feel–even your own.

But now, 4 years later, I’m going to revisit it.  The short work has one very devoted fan, and I thank her for her loyalty to the story and for her patience with me.  For her sake and for my own, I’m going to take a deep breath and plunge in.

Welcome back– to The Maze of Mirrors.

The Miller’s Daughter – snippet


While I was in France, I started up a “word prompt exchange” between myself and a couple of my writing buddies. We would give each other a word and then use that word as a jumping-point to story.  Then whenever we posted we would give each other a new prompt and begin again. Sample words they gave me included “turtle”, “gold”, and “mill”.

Last month I went back and reread all of these prompts, selecting two short stories that I thought were worth keeping or expanding into something more.  One of them I recently finished editing, and this one, I’m now currently working on as a short story, for now entitled The Miller’s Daughter.

Here is the original prompt, in all of its rough, cut-short glory.

– – –

March 29, 2007 – word prompt xchange – “mill”

Valérie stepped out into the grey light of morning. The sun had been up for hours but the waiting rainstorm had driven everyone inside. Only the farmers and monks had reason to be out and about. A little cloud cover had never stopped the weeds from growing nor could it dampen the Brethren’s spirits. There was always music to be had at the Abbey.

Valérie smiled to herself and her father, looking back at her, noticed. He called her up to where he led the beasts at the front of the wagon. She squished her way through the mud up to him, enjoying the sucking, smacking noises and the squishing between her toes. “Eh, papa?”

“C’m’ere. What’re ya smilin’ about?” He grinned at her. “Thinkin’ about yer beau?”

Valérie covered her face as heat rushed to it.

“Get, then! I don’t need yer help at the mill t’day. One of the Brethren will help me, no doubt. He’s around her somewhere, I ‘spec. But be back before noon or yer ma will give us both a readin’!”

Valérie raised her skirts to her knees and ran back along the wagon’s trail, grinning as she stumbled and slipped with every step through the mud. At the bend, she cut back through the forest. She made quite a racket, squeaking as she did every time her bare feet landed on something particularly pointy, but nothing could burst her bright mood. She ran her hands along the tree trunks as she passed, feeling the rough bark slide over her hands. She twirled through the fog and vines creeping over the forest ground and giggled at the gloomy sky. She knew right where Danophin would be, and it wasn’t far now!

But the further she went the thicker the fog beneath her feet became and it was soon difficult to pick her way over the rocks and sharp twigs of the forest floor. It became necessary to tread carefully, and, much to her displeasure, to slow down. Walking barefoot through the forest was suddenly not looking like the smartest idea, but the road had been relatively clear and her shoes had always been close at hand in the cart. Why hadn’t she grabbed them.

Then suddenly she became aware of the forest growing darker though the trees were no more dense than before. Valérie glanced up and three raindrops fell on her cheeks and forehead. She stopped immediately, opened her shawl and pulled it over her head, across her shoulders and tight against her arms as the temperature dropped with the rain now falling.

When she glanced up again, she was not alone.

A dark man sat on a black horse before her. Neither he nor his horse were like anything she had ever seen. Both were tall, elegant, refined. When he spoke, his voice, his accent were exotic. She never forgot the words he spoke.