sábado, 24 de junio de 2017

The unlikely trio

I truly loved writing A Calamity. The 5th novel of my elf fantasy series, it was the easiest novel to write and quite a rollercoaster of emotions both happy and sad at times. You'd be surprised to know that I wrote the draft in only 4 weeks albeit the constant editing took far longer than that.

Writing Damantin is always fun. Cunning, deceitful but with a heart of gold, he's an intriguing character with a troubled past. Living in exile due to the sins of his ancestors and being present when his father Sharad was cruelly murdered when he was a child, it was only natural that he would grow up with a tint of hatred against the Elf Kingdom. Despite his cool demeanor, the Äimite guard had their eyes set on him from the start and even though Spaulding believes he and Adinjandanir are trustworthy guests of his palace, the guards are just counting the days before Damantin makes a mistake in order to arrest him.

Without spoiling the fun twists in the novel, Damantin ends up arrested due to a misunderstanding and nearly perishes in prison at the hands of Lord Garain. When Spaulding discovers the truth, in a fit of rage he orders Garain to be forcefully dismissed from the guard, stripped of any social title he once had and exiled from his nation forever.

After losing everything, Garain ends up in Ayrtain and is grudgingly allowed to take care of a severely infirm Trevilin until he is healthy enough to be repatriated by Spaulding. Knowing this might be the last time he ever interacts with the friendly elf that is Spaulding's best friend, he yearns for the chance to someday see Damantin and beg for his forgiveness.

This is where one of the fun twists of the novel begins. Trevilin is resting in a garden when Damantin is casually strolling by with his hawk and the two elves meet face to face. Trevilin attempts to use sign language but Damantin is incapable of understanding him and quietly walks away.

Distraught, Trevilin tells the story of the mysterious foreigner to Garain and he nearly collapses on the ground when he realizes Trevilin might have possibly met Damantin without even realizing it.

With a recovered sense of determination to right his previous wrongs, Garain runs off to find the elf he unjustly harmed and finds him inside of a barn. Damantin oddly enough doesn't take revenge on the dishonored guard and asks him to take care of his pets and belongings for a few days. Out of every possible reaction Garain expected from the elf, being asked for such a strange favor wasn't on the list.

Garain returns to Aetherfeld Castle with Damantin's belongings and tosses his backpack on Pieran's lap who was comissioned by Spaulding to act as Trevilin's bodyguard during his convalescence. The guard that still considers Garain to be an Äimite, he feels somewhat offended by Garain's behavior but at the same time curious to know why Damantin is resting in Ayrtain. Both guards become increasingly flustered when they find Froylan's scroll among his belongings and decide to confront Damantin at once.

Without spoiling the plot further, I find the power dynamics of these three characters to be real fun. One of them is a longtime captain of the guard with a seemingly mundane mission, a dishonored guard that is trying his best to prove himself in the hopes of being allowed to someday return to the kingdom and resume his lifelong duty as an Äimite and a foreigner demonic elf that is trying to find his place in a hostile world. Damantin would have never conceived the possibility of sleeping under the same roof with the elf that nearly murdered him but Trevilin manages to guilt-trip him into staying for a night which ended up being a handful of weeks.

While Garain and Pieran seem to test Damantin's patience every now and then, he starts to have a feeling of comradery with the two guards which only strengthens in the 6th novel. I really enjoy the scenes where the three elves are together and it's always fun to write scenes where Damantin and Pieran are together.

domingo, 18 de junio de 2017

Gulraj the terrible

I personally like to write about multifaceted villains. I don't like the line where the good guys are fully good and the bad guys are fully evil.

Spaulding is stubborn, disobedient and has an ulterior agenda that causes him a lot of trouble during the course of the series. He is willing to spare the lives of some of his enemies, but he will not hesitate to execute criminals or those that he considers to be incorregible villains. It could even seem odd that he spares Lord Froylan's life in two occasions despite everything the guard did to him.

Many of the heros of the novels are indeed not goody good shoes. However, I like to keep my villains interesting and even to a point, I can sort of understand why Leilandy became a villain even though I think she had no need to treat Trevilin with so much cruelty after how nice he was with her in the second book.

One villain that rises above the rest in the realm of malice is Gulraj. Tioja's half brother and the current ruler of an exiled harlequin clan, he posesses a rather powerful demonic beast that gives a huge gift to a sacrifice and then takes something equally valuable away and transfers the gift to Gulraj.

He makes a brief appearance at the end of the 6th novel as an elderly harlequin but he really shines in the unfinished 7th novel.

There are a lot of secrets from his clan that abandoned Almjarhad several centuries ago and the 7th book begins to show some of them. He is indeed a terrifying villain but he's at the same time somewhat charismatic albeit in a very different way from Froylan and has his own agenda.

While the couple would seem beyond terrifying, I almost kind of like a Gulraj-Hama pairing. Hama would never willingly marry him, but I do enjoy drawing them together. When I have the free time, I wish to start drawing the cover of the 7th novel Harlequins with the two of them together in full attire in Photoshop.

I hope to continue writing the unfinished novel and someday hopefully finally publish it.

Are you interested in starting to read this series?

Get a free copy of a preview of the first novel HERE.

Read the first novel of An Ominous Book on Amazon and Goodreads. My book is continuously getting 4 stars reviews!

viernes, 9 de junio de 2017

I just watched the new Wonder Woman film

This isn't officially a movie review blog, but given I sometimes post random posts, I'll just take the chance to place a few comments about this Hollywood flick.

Hollywood has wanted to release a Wonder Woman film for quite some time and it was around 2012 when they were very close to doing just that with an unknown actress. However, between the cinema failures of Elektra and Halle Berry's horrid Catwoman film, releasing a movie of a powerful female comic book character was too risky. It also didn't help that fans didn't like the costume all that much.

In all fairness, the actress wasn't a bad cast, but the costume looked more like something you'd see in Comic-Con. I guess this was going to be a dud.

Regarding the new film where we got to see tidbits of Gal's character in that boring Batman vs Superman movie, I think Gal was well cast for the character. Whatever political opinions you have of her, I think her acting was quite suiting for the character and her more buky frame really gave her the title of a real world Amazoness. Let's face it, Hollywood is full of actors and musicians with political ideas that I don't really agree with yet that doesn't mean I'll just want to ban everything. However there are limits. Madonna's little tirade regarding burning down the White House when as far as I know she isn't even a US citizen didn't seem to be all that funny to me.

I'm not so sure about Chris Pine's character. He isn't exactly the most versatile or talented of actors and his character just seemed to be there saying the lines and enjoying the $$$. I found his character to be rather forgettable and it weakened the amusement factor of the film. Putting aside his acting, I also question what is going on with the character.

Okay, so he wants to save Europe from a mustard gas attack (just isolate atropine and inject yourself with a milligram of it!). He's a spy and loves England (Chris is so miscast in this role that it was hard to believe he was supposed to be a British national. I saw this film dubbed to spanish so I have no idea if his accent is convincing, but I'm rather certain it wasn't). The guy also shows up in an island that is not only inhabited by lots of available women of reproductive age, none of the inhabitants know about War World I. While delivering a crypted chemical recipe book to his army might seem compelling, most normal guys that are weary of war would probably just say, screw the army, I'm going to live in this magical island that is inhabited by lots of lusty women. Yet he just doesn't seem to care about Wonder Woman's affection or anything. What a weird male lead.

The token sidekick characters try to be funny, but they don't beat Mr. Marcus from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Heck, Henry Jones that was played by Sean Connery only stains a soldier's face with ink and scares some pigeons and yet he killed more enemies than the sidekicks in this film did. They could have killed all of the supporting characters and the plot wouldn't have hurt.

I liked Gal's acting and the way her character is a mixture between confidence and naïvety of the nature of mankind, but this is one of those movies where the villains are far more interesting characters than the good guys. I was infinitely more curious to know why chemical woman with crappy mask and her love buddy, Mr. angry German soldier toss some mustard gas into a meeting room and run off like they were playing a childish prank. How did they meet? Do they love eachother or just chaos? I cared more about them than the good guys.

The movie has a sort of uneven pace. Lots of boring filler talking scenes alternated with some battle scenes that are either rather well done and others with so much CGI that they look cartoonish instead of awesome. The movie would have been more impressive if the battle CGI was toned down and the battles more realistic. They seemed too clean with a plastic covering. Nothing to do with the grittiness of Saving Private Ryan.

There are some nice scenes going on that make it a mildly enjoyable movie, but the boring scenes were so boring I ended up playing with my cellphone. Might be worth it for the eye candy as a rental. I'll give the inevitable sequel the value of the doubt.


sábado, 3 de junio de 2017

A new Lord Damantin drawing

Once again, I'll make a quick post. Lord Damantin is a popular character from my book series yet I have relatively few drawings of him (I have more drawings of the series protagonist Spaulding).

I love to paint a completely blank canvas with Photoshop but you have no idea the amount of hours it takes to make a drawing out of scratch with the program. The protrait of the third novel Exile featuring Lord Froylan was rather easy to do but other drawings took me ages and ages because the proportions of the body were just weird and it's a pain in the rear to fix things (please recall I am not a graphics designer and what little I know about Photoshop, I learned on my own with trial and error).

I'd love to have more drawings of my fantasy book series, but time constraints makes that impossible. I stumbled a few months ago into an awesome online program called paintschainer that allows you to colorize images, but the program chooses whatever colors it feels like and any attempt to recolorize the image seems to worsen things.

It's awesome that Paintschainer has aligned itself with another Japanese website and it not only colorizes your drawing, it adds basic yet critical elements of Photoshop. Layers, layer style, resizing, layer visibility in %, erase tool, select color tool and more colors to choose from.

While it's not even remotely as powerful as photoshop and it doesn't include a select tool meaning the edges of my image were erased in order to make the Japanese house background visible, I'm quite amazed with this program's simplicity and the fact that I can colorize an image with whatever background I feel like within less than 1 hour.

I am definitely going to continue using this program and will be uploading more artwork whenever I am inspired or have the free time. Given the insane pressure oven cooker that my current job is, I desperately need a healthy outlet and this is helping me a little to release the steam.

The original hand drawn image.

The awesome magic of an automatic digital colorization tool and a nifty Japanese house background to set the mood. Trevilin was always fond of the epic awesomeness that is Lord Damantin from the special moment the two elves meet eachother in the 5th novel A Calamity and after joining the Äimite guard, it's only natural they would spend a lot of time together in National Palace.

If you have read the books, you'll eventually realize Trevilin keeps his black hair shorter than before after the events in the 5th novel and leaves it medium length. I think the only screw up in the drawing is the fact that the neck scar isn't shown on the colorized drawing.