Monday, March 30, 2015

The Dark Ice Chronicles: Jay Cross, T-Shirt Model

In the absence of any further ideas, I found the same old Dylan O'Brien pic which I used to draw my teenage Tony Stark and used it as the basis for the first solo sketch of Jay Cross. And since I was high on mocha and peanut butter cookies at the time, I decided to dress him up in a Penny Tee like on iCarly. The result is below.

I couldn't resist that slogan - and now I wanna make Jay wear one in the story!

Next up - Evan and Harris taking up Penny Tee modeling as well!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Rinmaru Avatars, Part 4: Dark Ice Chronicles Supporting Characters

It's been a long time coming, but at last, here they are, the supporting kid characters from The Dark Ice Chronicles in Rinmaru avatar form!

Kevin's more beefy than this.
But hey, I got him holding that ice cream cone.

Adele's looking quite excited today.

And Rachel is just glowing. :)

Jeremy Cross, the little rascal.

Henley, looking deviously smart.

Michelle has too much hair to manage.

Morgan showing his inner geek.

Aimee's flower is for Harris, of course.
Those who are caught up know why it's purple.

Enjoy! And await my next actual drawing, most likely a solo sketch of Jay. :)

Versatile Blogger Award

I've been nominated by Megan @ Books of Fascination for this award I've never heard of before, until now - being so new to the blogosphere. Thanks a million, Megan! :D

-Nominate 15 other bloggers relatively new to blogging.
-Let the bloggers know that you have nominated them.
-Share random 10 facts about yourself.
-Thank the person who nominated you and post a link to their blog.
-Add the Versatile Blogger Award picture to display on your blog.

My own nominations:

* Natasha @ Natasha's Little World
* B.R. Myers
* Tia Jenkins @ Read It Write Now!
* Selia @ Griffin&Snowflake

And...oh God. I don't know anyone else! I fail at blogging! :(

Oh well. I tried.

But I'll still do the 10 Random Facts, starting right now! And I'll do eleven bonus facts to make up for my inability to tag enough people! So, in total, 21 Facts, one for each of my years of age!

1) I once put on Panic! At The Disco and got my dad to do some air-guitaring. (The song in question: "The Only Difference Between Martyrdom And Suicide Is Press Coverage.")
2) I'm half Maltese, so you can imagine my reaction when I learned there was such a candy as Maltesers. :)
3) I'm also quarter-Italian. Which, as I always like to say, makes me more Italian than half the cast of Jersey Shore put together.
4) My first fandom was Harry Potter. I've never looked back.
5) According to Pottermore, I'm a Gryffindor.
6) I love chocolate cake, but not the German kind. Coconuts... *shudder*
7) Me and my dad, we love to spoil-but-not-spoil Mockingjay for my sister. A bit of revenge for her constant sporking of Peeta (and, to a lesser extent, Gale.) For example, my dad asked after seeing Mockingjay Part I, "Wait, doesn't she kill the president yet?" And I automatically said, "No, she doesn't do that, remember?" To which my sister said, "Aww, great, now I know she doesn't kill President Snow!" And then my dad and I looked all conspiratorial, 'cause we never specified which president (Snow or Coin) we were talking about! :D
8) As for The Hunger Games, most tests tell me I'm District 3.
9) If anyone tells me I'm cute, my automatic response is to disagree.
10) My ideal world would have the following features: Red Rain and Night Shift being published for real, The Amazing Spider-Man being part of the MCU from the start so Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone wouldn't get replaced, the Pacific Northwest providing excess rainwater to drought-stricken California, snow in the Bay Area every winter, and a delivery of lava cake ice cream to my door each weekend.
11) I'm thoroughly Divergent.
12) My favorite way to piss off my dad - watch Once Upon A Time in front of him.
13) My favorite way to piss off my mom - sing a song in front of her. Any song.
14) My favorite way to piss off my sister - beg her to stop watching Honest Trailers.
15) House Stark all the way! :D
16) I could never live in a coffee-free world. So upon watching Mockingjay Part I, for a moment, I actually felt Effie's pain.
17) The Beygency will always be after me. Thank God they don't exist...right? *glances around shiftily*
18) In my headcanon, Stiles' first name is Casimir.
19) My dad thinks cutting chips out of my diet will give me clearer skin. Next time a certain Drake and Josh 'sode comes on, I'll have to show him proof that his evil plan will fail miserably.
20) I'm American, but my favorite swear word is "bloody hell!" :D
21) There was a time when I wanted my first kiss to be Tori Vega. I'm still waiting...

Well, that's it. A few nominations, and 21 Random Facts! :D

Review: The Clockwork Scarab

The Clockwork Scarab
The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This one got a little boring at times, just enough to knock it down a star for me. What a shame, though - it was such a unique little steampunk fantasy action tale. :D

View all my reviews

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Rinmaru Avatars, Part 3: Red Rain and Blue Monday Supporting Characters

I made so many of these avatars yesterday, it's not even funny. So, here they are, the major supporting cast of Red Rain!

Luca fancies himself a bit of a gamer.

MJ hair, Gwen Stacy eyes - that's Dani for you.

Rachel has a bunny. Your opinion is invalid.

I promise, Paul isn't really this thin.

Aron, however, very much is as thin as depicted.

Steve's favorite toy - the double orange knives.

Yeah, I put Cameron Monaghan in the cast list,
but the resemblance between TJ and Ian still shocks me.

I didn't really think Penny was a Goth before, but now...

Kyle Prado <3's you. Especially if you're Gabe.

Ryan isn't supposed to look like me.
He's supposed to look like Andrew Garfield.

I wish Annie could have gotten a guitar too.

Coming soon: Dark Ice Chronicles supporting character avatars! :D

Monday, March 23, 2015

Rinmaru Avatars, Part 2: The Dark Ice Chronicles Protags

Presenting my second round of Rinmaru Avatars, based on my three most important Dark Ice Chronicles characters - Jay, Evan, and Harris!

If I'd realized I could do hoodies before,
I'd have given my own avatar one.

It wouldn't let me do a single braid, sadly.

That fang-y necklace is now part of his gear.
And that's canon - now, and forever. ;)

I should really stop making these avatars - but I can't! I think next up, I'll be doing some of my neglected Red Rain characters, like Luca and Dani.

Rinmaru Avatars, Part 1: Enhanced Self-Portrait and Red Rain Protags

I've been seeing these adorable anime avatars popping up on the intarwubs lately, and I eventually discovered their source - Rinmaru's Anime Avatar Creator. So, late last night, instead of putting up the finished product of Chapter 13 of The Scalers like I should have (because I was too sleepy to do anything else while listening to the Corner Booth's first video), I decided to fool around a bit with it, and created avatars not only of myself, but of my three most important Red Rain characters - Alex, Gabe, and Fionna.

So, in that order, here they are:

I even gave myself the wings, just 'cause. :)

You can't see it, but he's wearing a Reese's shirt.

Gabe could be a little blonder, maybe.

Her wings aren't actually that big, BTW.

Well, that's it for now. Next up, a set of Dark Ice Chronicles avatars! These will hopefully help you guys pass the time until I get back to making my own drawings.

Review: Through to You

Through to You
Through to You by Emily Hainsworth

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This one was short, but crazy intense - especially in the final 25 pages or so, when the major twist was revealed at last. Holy God, if anyone saw that coming, they must be psychic beyond psychic.

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Review: The Shadow Cabinet

The Shadow Cabinet
The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'd been wondering for a while when Johnson was gonna put this one out. And I think it's safe to say the long wait was worth it, because this is the best book yet in this series. Yes, better than Jack the Ripper, we have what basically amounts to England's version of a Jim Jones suicide-type cult. Except, in this 'verse, death ain't quite so permanent.

Thank God there's gonna be a Book 4. :)

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Sleepy Hollow: You Never Forget Your First Time

In honor of the recent third-season renewal of Sleepy Hollow, I've made a fancomic of one of my favorite moments from the show - the scene where Ichabod has his first espresso.

As an Italian (quarter-Italian, anyway) and avid espresso drinker, I'm offended by his initial statement. But then when he changes his tune...uh-huh, that's much more like it! :D

I'm on spring break for the next week, which also means my drawings will be on hiatus. I promise, there will be a fresh sketch of one of my characters by April Fool's Day, though! :D

Monday, March 16, 2015

Review: Innocent Darkness

Innocent Darkness
Innocent Darkness by Suzanne Lazear

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This one reads like a pretty wild little cross between The Iron Fey, The Infernal Devices, Shatter Me, and The Demon's Lexicon (the latter complete with references to Christina Rosetti and her famous "Goblin Market" poem.) The best part, though, is the surprisingly unique setting and genre - West Coast steampunk fantasy. If only the payoff was as five-star as the concept - but while the book lagged at times, the characters were still very engaging (especially Noli and V. They're too good together.)

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Review: Blood Infernal

Blood Infernal
Blood Infernal by James Rollins

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The end of the trilogy already? Well, that sucks. But that's okay.

Yes, I'm rating this one five stars in advance, 'cause it's gotta be just that awesome. I just hope I don't really have to wait till December 2015...

Review: Well, it looks like this one may well and truly be the end of the trilogy. Sure, there's easily potential for further adventures, but after that ending... Let's face it, that's the most original ending in this genre I've ever seen. Nobody's thought to redeem a fictional Lucifer like that, I'm sure.

And along the way, of course, there was nothing short of the typical Rollins high action and high adventure. Not to mention my favorite part of reading these types of stories - major history-bending. I'm a sucker for that, and the Sanguines Trilogy is no exception.

With that being said, I hereby bid this amazing - and amazingly underrated - series ave atque vale!

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Monday, March 9, 2015

Night Shift: Daniel and Mary

The amazing B.R. Myers cannot seem to get her wild and crazy and amazing Night Shift Trilogy published and sold in bookstores all over the world like it deserves. (There's a reason why, in the Red Rain and Dark Ice Chronicles 'verse, it's been published officially so Alex, Fionna, Jay, Evan, etc. don't have to go to Wattpad in order to read it. Sometimes, fiction is better than reality.)

But, for now, it's available on Wattpad for all to read. The first two books (Night Shift and Black Friday) are finished, with the third, Final Sale, now in progress. And, in celebration of the beginning of the end of this series, I have created what may be the world's first-ever fanart of Myers' lead characters, Daniel and Mary.

In one hand, they each hold one of the Willard's keys. In the other hand, invisible to the viewer, they each hold a chocolate.

Also, with apologies to Ms. Myers - while I went back to the first book to make sure I got the details of Mary's appearance right, I apparently failed to notice she'd added a cast list to her story, with Emily Browning as Mary. I, however, modeled my version of Mary on Teresa Palmer.

Enjoy! Next up, the boys of Deadpool Syndrome - Peter, Clint, Tony, Steve, Hiro, Tadashi, and of course Baymax. :D

Friday, March 6, 2015

Alex In Mourning

Continuing on my brief trend of capturing my characters at depressing moments in my drawings, here we have the latest - Alex Snow after a loved one has died.

For those of you wondering which loved one it is...well, you'll have to read Red Rain first, 'cause I can't spoil it for you.

Next up on the artwork schedule - Daniel and Mary from Night Shift, by the wickedly talented B.R. Myers!

Review: Burning Nation

Burning Nation
Burning Nation by Trent Reedy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The second part of the Divided We Fall Trilogy really slams on the gas pedal as far as action goes. Which makes sense, because now the Second Civil War has begun in earnest, and we're not just playing kid games anymore. Between the guerrilla fighting, terrorist-esque tactics used by the "good guys," and of course the waterboarding and other assorted forms of torture, it's easy to forget this is supposed to be Twenty Minutes Into The Future. It instead feels like Twenty Minutes Into The Past, back to the time of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Just one more book to go...why is it not already here?

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

24 Query Letters And Counting

As many of you might know, my current #1 goal in life (other than to get the girl, because that's the goal of many a lonely geekboy other than myself) is to get my first full-length novel, Red Rain, published. Perhaps the one thing that really pushed me to do so was the release of this here real-life book.

His first book in three years, and half of it
was presented as written by someone else.

The main character in Afterworlds, one Darcy Patel, manages to get an agent to pick up her novel after only one query letter. Bear in mind that Darcy is a teenager, and that her book is a little on the short side at sixty thousand words, and that she wrote it all in only one month. (By comparison, I'm 21, Red Rain is slightly under eighty thousand words, and I completed my first draft in four months.) According to this article, the ideal novel length is 80-100K words, and "anything less than 70,000 or over 110,000 might make publishers think twice before selling it." I'm guessing either Darcy didn't read this article, or her agent (and, later on down the line, her publisher) is an exception to the implied rule. But, of course, that's not the point of the novel. The real point is that while Darcy's story was good enough to attract an agent almost immediately, it's actually still quite the work in progress, and the bulk of the story involves Darcy not only being forced to seriously edit her novel, but also consider a sequel. She gets lucky at first, only for that luck to backfire when she's (metaphorically) thrown into the deep end.

Me, I'm nowhere near as lucky. I sent my first query letter for Red Rain almost three months ago, right after the end of my fall semester. I received my first rejection (from the same agent) before my spring semester began six weeks later. Up till now, I've sent a grand total of 24 query letters. Most of these have been rejected, whether through a fairly standard form letter (which is bereft of any information other than some variation on "I'm sorry, but this project just isn't right for me at this time") or outright failure to respond. It's hard to say which is more maddeningly unhelpful. Even more maddening - the timing of any and all responses I do get is erratic as hell. Around the end of January and the start of February, I was sending letters daily, and getting rejected daily too. In some cases, the rejections came within less than two hours. But in the last month or so, I've gotten almost no news - which is most certainly not good news, I don't think. I had only one agent respond to me after the first week of February. I don't know about you, but I really hate waiting like this.

Tell me about it, Not-Moose.

I'm pretty sure I'm part of the problem too. In at least three cases, I've made serious mistakes in my query letters, which I'm sure have torpedoed my chances with those agents before they even began. Today, for instance, I sent a huge batch of query letters. Unfortunately, due to real-world events interfering with my concentration (namely, a U-verse technician screwing with my internet and replacing all the cable box remotes in the house, forcing me to painstakingly program one to control my ancient TV-VCR combo)...

God bless my sixteen-year-old idiot box, though.
It's the last non-flat screen in the house.
...I ended up completely forgetting to paste in the first five pages of the Red Rain manuscript to one of those queries. Which now makes me look like a fool to that Mr. Agent Man to whom I sent said letter.

Facepalm away, Potter Puppet. I know that feel, bro.

There's also the fact that my book is full of all the sorts of things that my parents say are the reason why I alienated all my old high-school friends and classmates. Chief among them: weird and/or black humor, excessive pop-culture references, Maroon 5 hate, Katy Perry hate, quirky characters, love of Marvel in general and Spider-Man in particular, and did I mention excessive pop-culture references? I'm sometimes told to avoid those because they might make my book dated. Or, if they're like my mom, they find my ability to quote movies and TV shows on command - usually in a good-to-awesome impression of the original character, too - insufferable and pretentious.

I'm gonna bastardize Ichabod Crane here:
Stow thy smug mug, unholy minion.
And the granddaddy of all the potential reasons why my story isn't getting picked up is this - the fact that I'm publishing it on Wattpad. Granted, the version I have on Wattpad is the second draft, and the version I intend to publish is the fourth (it would have been the third, but thanks to extra feedback from a user of Amazon's Write On site, it no longer is the third.) But there's a party line going around that anyone who publishes on Wattpad is almost certainly not gonna get their book published for real. Of course, tell that to Taran Matharu.

Now on my Goodreads "to-read" list.

Then again, though, Matharu was a pretty instant success. My story, though, not so much. While it's been in the top 1000 for Teen Fiction on and off in the eleven months since I first joined Wattpad, Red Rain is still just shy of fifty thousand reads - half of which are on the first chapter alone. My guess is that while a number of people find Red Rain and try it out, the vast majority don't want to stick around. I do get a lot of people adding it to their reading lists every day, and I try to make sure I drop a note on their message boards thanking them for doing so. (If I don't, I hereby apologize.)

So...why am I such a Wattpad underachiever? Could it be that my geekiness shining through in every word of the story is repelling potential readers? Perhaps - even though that same geekiness is certainly helping attract fans to my Spider-Man-centric Marvel fanfic, Deadpool Syndrome. Could it be that they go in thinking it's going to be something it's not? I know at least one Wattpadder has mistakenly filed Red Rain under their reading list of vampire stories - which required me to kindly correct them. Same with the Wattpadder who was somehow under the impression it was a 1D fanfic.

Speaking of highly popular sections of Wattpad, there's another one that gets a hell of a lot of attention: boyxboy romance. It seems that attaching that tag to your story (along with "LGBT" or "#taygetsthegay") will really pull in a lot of readers. In Red Rain, protagonist Alex Snow is straight, but his twin brother Gabe is gay. I could potentially put an LGBT tag on my story, and it wouldn't exactly be false advertising. But I don't. (Yeah, I think I may be answering one of my earlier questions right here.) The reason for this is because while it is important to the story that Gabe Snow prefers other boys, it's not his primary trait as a character. I'm also gonna direct your attention to another novel that I shall use as a justification for my decision not to play up Gabe's sexuality.

Also recommended by Marie Lu. :)

I went into this one blindly, attracted only by the dust-jacket blurb. The main character of London's story, Syd, is openly gay, and when that's revealed about thirty pages in, I was very much surprised. And I felt very bad for him too, because it was only revealed when another boy called him a strange futuristic slur, and the narrative had to pause for a moment to explain what "Chapter 11" meant in this 'verse. Because of this story, when I decided that Gabe was gay as well, I also decided to try and emulate London by dropping it on the reader after a short while. (Of course, I didn't have to have Gabe get bullied in that moment, although it is revealed later on in the story that he's had to deal with homophobic teenage angels before.)

There's also the fact that while there are some diverse characters in my book (not only Gabe, but also the half-Asian Fionna Lee), because none of them are the protagonist, I almost feel that any attempt to attract readers (and agents) to Red Rain by bringing up diversity and/or LGBT-friendliness would be misleading. Sure, we need more male YA protagonists, but because Alex is still a white American (albeit non-human, living in an alternate universe), I'm gonna probably have a hard time selling Red Rain without bringing up what diversity it has at some point. And even then, I'm not guaranteed to attract an agent that way. Hell, one agent who rejected me had "LGBT Friendly" listed under her name and place of business at the end of her form letter, and I didn't even think to bring that up in my query.

Oh well. It's past midnight in California, and I need to pull the emergency brake on my brain before I completely fly off the rails. So now you know what keeps me up at night, people.

Remember: Denis Leary is always watching. Always.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Phoenix13: Jason McKinley

As promised to my fellow Wattpadder Kewona Wolf, I have created a fanart of her character Jason McKinley. Here he is, in all his futuristic, pop-culture-spewing glory:

Yeah, he's supposed to be blond. That's the real problem with having only plain old No. 2 pencils to draw with. And I actually did this while watching Helix the other night - which may explain my lack of nightmares as a result. :)