Monday, 26 November 2012

"Good as Gold", Chapter 18

(Click here to get to chapter 18) In which Mirii meets Yannis’ contact in the foreign lab (and gets even more confused), Brennan moves out to the hospital, Biohazard makes a surprising discovery of his own, and Asenka crosses swords with the sinister doctor Hueil.

Posted words: 72452 out of 100,000

Friday, 16 November 2012

"Good as Gold", chapter 17

(Click here to get to chapter 15) In which the twins discuss their limited progress, Eri gets a message, and Asenka starts to have second thoughts about what they’re doing.

Posted words: 63,568 out of 100,000

Monday, 12 November 2012

"Good as Gold", chapter 16

(Click here to get to chapter 15) In which Mirii visits the market with Yannis (who - as always - has an ulterior motive for the visit), and Sei finally begins to find out what his abductor is up to.

Posted words: 57,361 out of 100,000

Friday, 9 November 2012


I was aiming for the sort of... Aztec/Maya/Egyptian style I used for these wee beasties, again. Not sure I managed it, precisely, but I still like how she turned out.

I have another handful of Egyptimayan-mashup pictures to finish off, so there might be more like this on the way - if I ever get them finished. (I was going to suggest people give me ideas for other creatures to doodle up, but I'll blatantly never get them finished - I mean, this took me months already - so.)

Thursday, 8 November 2012

"Good as Gold", chapter 15

I'm being a little bit of a NaNoRebel, this year! I felt like trying to finally get "Good as Gold" finished - in draft form, if nothing else - so may I present the first new material of NanoWriMo 2012:

(Click here to get to chapter 15 on Dreamwidth or Livejournal; choose which platform you prefer. ) In which a little deception is revealed, more trickery is planned, and Mirii considers her options...

Posted words: 50,445 out of 100,000

If you'd like to catch up, the story so far is posted on Dreamwidth and Livejournal.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Stained glass beasties; a redux

I found my original post! December 2008, ouch. But I at least got a couple finished off!

Enfield    Kelpie     An enfield (left) and a kelpie (right).

As well as a borough in London, the enfield is a heraldic beastie, made up of fox, eagle, and wolf, occasionally with some greyhound and lion in it too. The kelpie, or each uisge, is the carnivorous water horse of celtic myth. You could always identify a kelpie by the sand and shells in its mane. (Presumably, if you dared to get close enough?)
As ever, I'm somewhat dissatisfied by the enfield's blobby "magic" and will probably rework it.

To answer Anna's question (I can't get on FA right now): they're tall, skinny pictures because that way they'll fit on a particular brand of stickers. I like to get things printed so I can hide them inside things I put in the post (like... Christmas cards, haha) as little extras.

Technically not "Beasts of Yore" but since that's now out of print, and it's a similar theme if nothing else...

Friday, 28 September 2012

Memento Mori - first draft complete!

This post is slightly belated (about a week); I never got as far as posting it, because I ran out of title icons for the individual chapters.

As with the previous half of the first draft, "chapters" 19-33 are now posted as a PDF on my website, and can be accessed by clicking the picture at the right. (Again, it's just over 2Mb, and about 80k words.) If you just want to read the last few chapters, they are here: Chapter 31, Chapter 32, Chapter 33 (Epilogue)

Thus, the first draft of Memento Mori is at last finished!

I now need to think about getting to work on editing it, so I can publish it, although I may try and get "Good as Gold" finished first. (That, I think, will be my project this November.) It makes more sense to publish that and "Thunder Daughter" first, seeing as they explain a little about certain aspects of Memento Mori (notably, the feared "blood fevers").

I’ve always considered doing illustrated “special editions” of things, but as the photograph below shows, that may end up being prohibitively expensive. (I checked on Lulu’s price calculator, the base cost of a 300-page perfect bound full colour book would be in the region of £42. I’m not sure many people would be willing to fork over that much.)

The delay in making this post did allow me to get this item ready to go into it, however. As soon as the first draft was finished – and that is pretty much literally, as soon as the last word was typed I was formatting it to send off – I got the first draft printed up as a book (via “Lulu”, a print-on-demand service). It took about a week to arrive. I purchased two copies – one for me, to put in my bookcase as a “reward” for finishing it, and one to loan out to people at work; the loan copy is already out in the wild.

Edit: I'm not sure why it's so difficult to get things to post with the correct formatting, on here.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Bead butterfly

Beaded Butterfly
I made this a few days ago, for my Mum's birthday, so now it's safe to upload it. :) It's supposed to be a handbag charm (or similar) hence the little lobster clasp on the top.

It's based on the malachite butterfly, which is one of my favourites - technically, the brown and green is the pattern on the underside of the wing, the top is a rather more dramatic black and bright green, but I prefer the underwing colours.

When you pick it up, the wings fold up like on an actual butterfly; I'm not sure if it was intentional. XD (The instructions on how to make it were in a book, but I didn't follow them too closely. It was probably not intentional, all their examples lay nice and flat.)

I spent ages charting the pattern for this, and of course, the fact it's not "traditional" beadwork like peyote means the pattern didn't come out like I'd charted. Drat.

Edit: I just crossposted this to the craftgrrl LJ community - I've never posted there before, and it just took me about 45 minutes of editing and changing and editing and rewriting to pluck up the courage to actually click POST. XD

I'm such a coward. This is part of the reason why I never commission people, even when they're offering free drawings - I get shy and awkward about saying "OOH ME, MEME, PICK ME, NIGEL", and end up chickening out.

Edit2: Haha. I just realised: it's Whitesides, in butterfly form.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Memento Mori, Chapter 30

I am getting SO CLOSE to finishing this, I can almost SMELL it.

(Click here for chapter 30) In which Blink manages the incredible, and actually gets into the Institute. OMG. And finds a little surprise inside.

Just fyi, "Hoo-dees" is the colloquial name for hooting deer. I've only just started to think about their names and things; I need to do a bit of worldbuilding before I edit the thing up. I don't really want to have to use the word "deer", for instance, it was a stop-gap so I didn't get too stuck. XD

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Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Memento Mori, chapter 29

SEE, SEE? I told you I'd get it done in less than a month! *PROUD*

Blink is getting quite excited about the event coming up just around the corner. I'm getting quite excited too as I'm getting close to the finish, WOO.

(Click here for chapter 29) In which Blink makes an unbelievable discovery about her little hosts, and Rae wonders if they should take drastic steps to resolve "the Tevak problem".

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Monday, 16 July 2012

Memento Mori, Chapter 28

So much for “determined to get the next chapter finished faster than the last” – I seem to have been even slower, this time. (It’s been about 40 days since I last posted! What.)

Again, “I am determined etc”, so I’m going to set myself a deadline, this time; next chapter by the 27th. That gives me a week to finally tame the creeping junkheap once and for all, and then a week to do the writing. If I can keep to the “50,000 in 30 days”, I’m sure I can write 6000 in a week.

Back to business. I actually posted the meat of the chapter before work, but ran out of time to link to it from my other journals, so here we go. Better late than never!

(Click here for chapter 28) In which Tevak gives the Library an ultimatum – find Blink, or he’ll burn the place down – and certain little shocking revelations are made. Up in the danata colony, Blink struggles to work out where she’s meant to go from here – and scared that she’ll end up bringing the monster to their door.

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Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Memento Mori, Chapter 27

I am determined to get the next chapter done quicker than the last. *srs face* I can’t keep going with the whole “one chapter every month” pace, I’ve kinda ground 90% to a halt here. Otherwise I’ll never get the first draft finished by August. I want to get the darn thing edited and finished asap.

(Click here to get to chapter 27) In which the Library discuss Sarmis’ betrayal, and Blink struggles to see whether there’ll ever be a way out of this whole mess....

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Edit: Whoops! Can't count

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Memento Mori, Chapter 26

Another chapter in less than 6 weeks! It's a miracle.

I had wanted to get this chapter finished and uploaded on the 1st May, because it would have been the story’s “6-month birthday”, but I had a little writer's block. Happy Belated Birthday, anyway, MM? (Actually I’m not particularly happy because it means I still haven’t finished it, and I can’t edit what I haven’t finished. And I am determined to have something finished enough to self-publish by the end of 2012. Cue, end of the world?)

(Click here to get to chapter 26) In which Sarmis manages to blow his own cover, and Tevak discovers his prize is missing (and promptly also blows up).

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Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Memento Mori, Chapter 25

(Click here to get to chapter 25) In which Blink finally makes good her escape – but where are the danata taking her? Has she maybe just climbed out of the frying pan, and got straight into the fire?

I'm getting close to the end, now, I can feel it. *wiggles* Soon I'll be able to get down to editing it.

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Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Memento Mori - Chapters 21-24

I came along to post chapter 24, which I have been taking an unfeasibly long time to write, and realised I'd managed to NOT post chapters 21-23. (I would say, I think it was probably because my laptop with the little oblong titles had gone to be repaired, but that's a bad excuse.)

Now I have them, though, let's get on with the show!

Click here to get to chapter 21 In which Rae is bitten by a werewolf (well, a "were-something", anyway) and Blink's escape attempt comes to another abrupt and rather painful end. (Girl, you're going to be covered in bruises if you keep on testing Tevak's patience like this... Although at least you showed Zinovy why he shouldn't touch you!)

Click here to get to chapter 22 In which Blink gets a much-needed (but not much-wanted) drink, and perhaps a new friend? Rae recovers enough to start making plans that Odati would definitely disagree with, and Whitesides pays a visit (or does he?).

Click here to get to chapter 23 In which Halli and Rae unwisely set out into enemy territory, but maybe make a new ally in the process, and Tevak... tries to show his softer side, but Blink isn't buying it. She's going to have to make a decision soon, though, because she's already hallucinating, and she can't stay in the basement forever...

Click here to get to chapter 24 In which Halli spots someone sneaking somewhere he shouldn't be (alliteration intentional), Tevak lays down an ultimatum - as does Odati - and three of the smallest sapient creatures in the known universe hold out a very BIG hand in a gesture of kindness.

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Sunday, 5 February 2012

Memento Mori, chapter 20

Click here to get to chapter 20 In which Halli and Rae discuss some of the more worrying things preying on their minds, and Blink learns a little more about her new home, and new hosts.

Another longish chapter. I decided to just... keep going until the point I'd decided on as a stop point, instead of divide it up.

Edit: Oops, got my colours wrong.

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Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Sketchbook Project 2011

Whoops! Forgot to post this; I think because I posted it to my "Sketchbook Project" blog, I forgot to post it here. It SHOULD have been posted on the 1st February, but seems to have been sitting in my blog's draft folder until now (3rd April); I hope post-dating it works, this time!

The Sketchbook Project/Tour, 2012

Like last year, this year I again contributed to the Brooklyn Art Library "Art House Co-Op" Sketchbook Project! My theme this year was "Prehistoric".

It really took me a long time to get going - I signed up in september and didn't really DO much until I had literally only a week or two before I had to post it. Since my desktop PC fell over, I was finding it hard to get motivated. :(

Sketchbook cover Sketchbook cover
Covered in fabric that's meant to look like rocks with plants growing up between them, with little crimped-on metal corner protectors.
Inside front page Inside front page
I tried to make it look sort of like it was a real library book by some random scholar somewhere. Should be JUST big enough to see what's going on and read the text, I hope? I apologise for my foot being in the shot, haha.
Vullish cave art Vullish cave art
A vulline sets out to prove herself to her family by hunting the greater plains jerga. Although modern vuls are not recognised for their artistic prowess, this piece of art was found by mineral prospectors in a cave within the polar circle, on Vulpecula Prime. Radiocarbon dating has placed it at approximately 120,000 years old. This art goes some way to prove the contentious hypothesis that complex intelligence began to develop in this species much earlier than had originally been imagined; readers will note, for instance, the elongate jaw on the female character. Classical hypotheses suggested that a brain capable of such imaginative thought had not evolved until the much flatter facial structure of the modern vul began to develop. Although this could conceivably be artistic interpretation on the painter’s behalf, later discoveries of cave art demonstrate the more familiar “snub-nose” of modern vuls. This image also revealed some detail about the plains jerga; no modern equivalents have the fleshy wattles. The painter’s attention to detail – as no fewer than five individual pigments have been isolated from the painting – implies that the jerga was of great cultural significance.
Cave art of unknown species Cave art of unknown species
The nature of the artist responsible for this piece of work, found in an equatorial cave on Vulpecula Prime, remains unknown. It does not correspond to any known vullish techniques , and the pigments used are unusual, obtained from elevations that early vuls are unlikely to have been able to reach. While the fossil record contains good evidence for the existence of this species, their sentience has (until now) remained purely fanciful speculation on the part of a small number of biologists. Pigments used in the creation of this image have never been recorded in any traditional vullish art, lending support to the theory that this was indeed a sentient species. The species is known to have died out at the start of the most recent ice-age. Although some have suggested vul involvement in their decline, it is more likely that they were unable to cope with the dramatic temperature fluctuations and the loss of their rainforest habitat. Earthquake damage has unfortunately caused the loss of the lower portion of the image. Evidence from the fossil record has been used to fill in some of the details; it is notable that the hindlimbs of this species have never been identified.
Qii Qii
Early Qii art from the largest ia’Maura coastal plain is notable for its bold, geometric (and often somewhat grotesque) style, and unusually advanced colour palette. This ferocious creature appears in the art of many cultures resident on the plain; although the representations are crude and inaccurate, it is generally accepted to be the amphibious “Greater Sun Mark”, a migratory reptile that comes ashore in spring to breed. Scholars have yet to make an official decision on the level of intelligence of these “monsters”. Living for most of the year in the benthic regions of the greater ocean, and highly aggressive when approached during their breeding season, they are notoriously difficult to track and study. The Qii are themselves one of the more primitive of peoples native to the Sapere galaxy; although their architecture is elaborate and ostentatious, and they have a well-developed system of herbal medicines, they have not yet developed electricity or the internal combustion engine.
Qii picking lotuses Qii picking lotuses
The unusual “thermal lotus” has long been a staple feature in Qii artworks. This rare bloom is one of the few complex species that has evolved to live in the volcanic hot springs of the coastal plain, well able to tolerate elevated temperatures up to 70 or even 80C without suffering any harm. Small wonder, perhaps, that it should feature in so much Qii art, and have taken on a semi-divine nature of its own. Harvesting of the blooms is a comparatively dangerous art, as they grow close to the central funnel of the springs. This image shows a native villager gathering the blooms for a spiritual elder, with what appears to be a small deity or water-spirit beneath the surface, encouraging more to grow.
The Celestial Twins The Celestial Twins
The Celestial Twins swim around the galactic centre. No good original artworks have been found of the Celestial Twins of the early Xniki religions, probably due to the species’ amphibious, mostly-aquatic nature. Most images have been degraded through the flow of water, a large proportion being lost forever. It is notable that they still bear the long tails of the ancestral species; scholars believe that the flukes were lost and replaced by the large, paddle-shaped feet very early on in the species’ development, possibly even before the development of sentience.
Raan the protector Raan the protector
Early Kiravai art has a fluidity and spontaneity that is often lost in more modern works, which are more concerned with ensuring deities are placated with precise, opulent, often excessively grandiose artworks. This appears to be an early rendition of Raan, the more warlike masculine face of the primary deity, facing off against the serpent Kxa. The wings are representative of their ancestry, as the actual power of flight was lost early in this species development. Additionally, all aspects, or “ciires” (faces) of this deity possess four upper limbs, to symbolise the perfect union of male and female in one entity, however the second pair of arms are usually rendered as wings in images of the warlike protector. Good versus evil is often represented in such a way in art all the way back to the primitive art of the kestavai (Protokiravium auroros); serpents are known to have preyed on this early people, and although modern kiravai are rarely threatened in such a manner, the racial memory persists.
Snuggly kestavai Snuggly kestavai
Artists impression of a small flock of kestavai, preparing to sleep in the evening. As a species, kestavai were small – barely half the size of their modern kiravai counterparts – and comparatively defenceless; although themselves omnivorous, their size made them a common prey species in the forests of their homeworld. They had the largest brain capacity of species in their family, however, and evolution selected for smarter kestavai – better able to outwit their predators, surviving longer and more likely to pass on their brainy genes. Their advancing capacity for complex, abstract thought allowed them to develop the capacity to defend themselves with tools and weapons. At the same time, it has been suggested that this intense selection pressure through predation might have driven the species’ xenophobia. It is interesting to draw parallels between these small, primitive biological sentients and our own more advanced synthetic fliers. Although the kestavai lost their ability to fly at quite an early stage, they maintained the gregariousness and tendency to flock. These same characteristics have been noted in the mindset of our own “wing kin”, particularly the strong bonds formed between often otherwise-unrelated trine-mates.
Displaying kestavai Displaying kestavai
A pair of kestavai cement their social bonds. While modern kiravai (Kiravium imperialus) are fairly well-known for their elaborate courtship, recent discoveries have shown that this practice in fact pre-dates the earliest known true civilisation. This prehistoric wall painting is one of the earliest known pieces of kestavai art, and shows a male (cob) courting a female (pen) with flowers. Interestingly, he appears to also be presenting her with a knife or a weapon of some kind, presumably for defensive purposes. This is an interesting development, as no modern pen would be permitted to carry such weaponry. Although it could be argued that this blade is for food preparation, the shape closely resembles the fearsome stone blades often found alongside fallen chieftains. The degree of feathering on these kestavai is not clear from this image, however scholars believe that they had already lost the bulk of their pelage at this point, hence the attraction shown towards bright objects. The arms and the head were the primary areas still feathered. The raising of the arms is not a supplication to a deity, but rather considered to be a ritual dance, to display the plumes that still remain on the upper limbs.
Zaar skull comparison Zaar skull comparison
A comparison of early and modern zaar skulls. The avian ancestry of the modern zaar is evident only by observing detail of the skull; the fleshy lips of the living individual come down to cover the thick blades of the internal beak, which now more closely resembles the incisors of the average mammal. The early zaar were quite clearly of avian descent, with exposed bony beaks, although it is clear from this reconstruction that the beak was diminishing. An important series of fossils, with the outlines of their soft tissues preserved in the rock, have been discovered, and have demonstrated that the lips have advanced and the beak receded over the millennia. It is considered that the increasing social awareness of this species has led to increased reliance on facial expressions, and thus a greater degree of complex musculature to reflect this.
Proto-zaar Proto-zaar
A small proto-zaar female out foraging for food. Although zaar and kiravai both have avian ancestry, their development could hardly have been different. The small, stocky Zaar quickly became one of the top predators in their marshy homeworld, designing a variety of stone tools for hunting and defending themselves. This artist’s impression is of the family matriarch, out hunting; her mate is presumably at home in a mud-and-thatch nest, tending to their single egg.
Back cover! Back cover!
A better view of that nice fabric.

Typical. The border that LJ refused to show on the style I use comes up just fine on here.

I must investigate if they're going to do a "Sketchbook Tour 2013". As I'm not sure I'm going to do NaNoWriMo this year, it'd be a nice "other project to do in November".

It'll be strange to not do NaNoWriMo. I've done it every year for the last 5, but I feel I need a year off to consolidate, edit and finish things off - not to mention, I have no idea whatsoever about a storyline. If I DO do NaNo, I think it'll be getting the first draft of "Good as Gold" finished - it needs another 50,000 words and I badly have to sort out the plot.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Memento Mori, chapter 19

Click here to get to chapter 19 In which the Library discuss where Blink might have "sneaked away" to, and Blink finds that she's not precisely in the company of friends any more - although precisely how much trouble she is in, right now, hasn't quite sunk in yet.

Bit of a long chapter this time. (Almost 8000 words; I've been trying to keep to around 5000 for ease of reading, but I got carried away, haha. At least it's not like last time, where I divided a chapter because it was getting too long and it ended up 3 chapters.)

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Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Word Clouds

I've been playing around with a word-cloud generator. At lunch, I ran the reporter on our enquiry database, pulled all the titles of the enquiries we've done in the last 2 years, then punched it into the cloud generator, just to see what would happen.

I originally wanted to find a tutorial of some kind to explain how to do those pictures where you have a shape that is made up of lots of smaller shapes - where for instance, you have the silhouette of a person's face, but instead of just a flat solid fill, it's filled with flowers, but they don't overlap, and don't go off the edge, just get smaller and smaller to fill all the gaps. It looks like hard work, and I wondered if there was a shortcut. (I can't find an example, now, but it's close-ish to this)

...and I found this instead. I'm having lots of ideas, but I'm not sure how I can work it into my art, as like a background or an element or something.

Then, of course, I had to run my fiction through it. ¬_¬ You should be able to guess which is which.


I seem to quite like the word "little", for some reason.

Memento Mori - Part 1

A new year, a new post (at last!).

I know. I haven't posted here for a while. I should confess, I haven't really had much TO post, as I'd been busy getting ready for NaNoWriMo in November, and battling a zombie desktop PC (...and then, of course, WRITING said NaNo.)

I planned on linking to each chapter of MM I wrote as I uploaded it, but the icons were on the dead PC, and by the time I got up to chapter 15 and still hadn't linked to any individual one, I thought it was about time to stop planning and get to doing. Thus, "chapters" 1-18 are now posted as a PDF on my website, and can be accessed by clicking the picture at the right. (It's just over 2Mb, and about 80k words. Should download fairly quickly.)

I am still going to be uploading the individual chapters to the Memento Mori LJ as I go, if anyone is interested in following along from there. Comments/critique/useful nitpickery welcome. :)

Lastly, I have an account on Dreamwidth now. I hope it'll be a fraction more reliable than LJ.