Walking home on this post-Christmas pre-New Year’s December day, I saw:
in the bare branches of a shrub – a tiny scarecrow made of twine and fabric on a slender wooden stick, something you might use as a whimsical accent in a fall container garden
crushed in the road – a neon purple plastic spider ring like children buy for a quarter from the toy vending machines in the department store lobby around Halloween
Why did these creatures choose this day of all days to come creeping out of whatever under-baseboard secret kingdom obsolete holiday decorations dwell in? Perhaps some myopic felt Easter bunny stuck its head out of a hidden burrow, mistook the glitter of Christmas lights for the twinkling of stars, and sounded the all-clear – “Christmas is over! Come out! Come out!”
I felt sorry for the poor things, the way I feel when I see the crocuses pushing up their heads during those rare warm spells in February. “Shhhh, go back to sleep. Winter isn’t over yet.”
Is it wrong to start designing the cover art before you write the book? I hope not. These are pen-and-ink studies for the cover art of The Dragon of Iletupa, the next novel I’m working on. The first one began as studies of dragon scales and then turned into an odd little street scene with characters taking their colorful balloons for a walk. This in turn inspired a limerick entitled ‘The Droll Encounter.’
The other two managed to come out looking like dragons. Progress!
One of the principal joys of being an author is killing your characters in imaginative ways. Don’t believe me? Try it.
For your amusement (and my own) I have assembled a table of the various gruesome ways characters have met their deaths in the work I have published so far. I’ll build new tables as I work on other projects, and publish them here from time to time, perhaps with a running total.
You will notice Perilous Jack’s name many times. The Perilous Adventures of Jack the Dragonslayerare Choose Your Own Adventure®-style stories, in which there are numerous ways for him to meet a bitter ending. Since all the action is directed by the reader, the squeamish or guilt-prone are advised to proceed with caution!
Here’s a sample from The Concubine’s Spy, part one of A Lord of Five, the next volume in the trilogy The Furnishings of Baba Yaga’s Hut. You can buy the first book, A Lord of Three at Lulu.com
Dr. Erasmus Lammergeyer strode the sewers of Mydmos at a furious clip, the crisp lines and regular motions of his long skinny legs resembling the opening and closing of a tailor’s shears. He muttered to himself animatedly, gesturing at the empty air with long fingers, from time to time dashing his unruly hedge of silver hair back from his eyes with an unconscious, irritable gesture. The awful stink of the sewer and the unsavory shifting of the shadows washed unremarked through his senses; his mind was too occupied to notice. His scholar’s robe, now somewhat fouled since he’d absentmindedly stepped off the path a few turns ago, snapped smartly in the wind created by his swift passing. Yet it was not the urgency of his errand that fired his movements, it was the excitement engendered by his newest acquisition.
People ask me this all the time, and I never really know what to say. Usually I say either ‘good’ or ‘slow’, and leave it at that. But it dawned on me the other day that since I track my own progress (more because I’m an Excel nerd than anything), I always have an easy answer to that question at my fingertips. So here it is, broken down by project, with grand totals at the bottom. I’ll keep you updated. 😉