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Atlantis: TVC Volume 3: Complete!

Finally, I’ve completed volume 3!

I know it took longer than expected due to health issues and my surprise baby, but man does it feel good to finally have it done! As of the first draft it has twenty-six chapters, and is roughly one-hundred and four-thousand words long. This will change as editing starts and beta feedback is received, but so far that makes it almost twenty-thousand words longer than volume 1–and I actually ended it early. That’s right, in the timeline it was slated to go on for at least five more chapters but the thing was getting massive. I scaled back, folded the remaining events into volume 4 [Yes, there is a volume 4 planned!] and ended it in what I felt was a good spot.

In the beginning there wasn’t really a plan for a number of volumes. I completely “pantsed” my first book, [This is a valid writing term, I swear.] deciding to just write and see where it went. I thought maybe it would be a standalone, but by the time I reached the end of volume 1 I realized there was a lot more story left and drew up a more concrete timeline of events. Together, the first three books deal with Achine’s rise to the throne and make a decent trilogy. I didn’t plan it that way, it was just a happy accident.

We are going to be moving soon, so this couldn’t have come at a better time. I have hopes that this year I might be able to participate in NaNoWriMo for the first time ever because I have plans for a new series–one radically different from the fantasy feel of the Atlantis books–and I’m hoping to put out volume 1 of it as a NaNo effort. From there I am hoping to alternate between the two series, possibly working on them in tandem at some points. Until then I am going to take a break from writing [except for edits] because there are plans to release physical versions of the first three Atlantis books, which I am really excited about! But it is going to take some time and work to get them revised and properly formatted for print.

As of this posting the digital version of Atlantis: TVC volume 3 should be released this Winter, while the print editions for all three books will be available closer to Spring 2018. [This is subject to change without notice.]

Life, the Universe, and Babies

Oh man, so much has happened since I last posted! I’m not even sure where to begin. As I’m sure you’ve all probably figured out, I had my baby at the end of April. It was a boy! 7 pounds, 8 ounces of squishy baby goodness.

He’s seven weeks old now and starting to come out of his “potato” phase. But up until this point we were on a steep learning curve because it turns out the little guy is allergic to a protein in milk. So this means he was rashy, itchy, colicky, and due to all that didn’t sleep well. Of course, that meant we didn’t either. His first week or so of life he was a fairly content, easy baby. [I seem to have a trend of getting good sleepers that sleep six hours at a stretch right off the bat.] But soon he became this inconsolable mess that barely slept. Once we figured things out and got him on the right formula [Read: the most expensive one on the market!] he’s been a different baby. He sleeps through the night again! He is happy and content! He doesn’t scream like his existence is torture! The downside is that it took five weeks to diagnose and I was so sleep deprived that my body now thinks two hours is a fantastic amount of sleep to be getting. I need to retrain it to not think that because despite what it thinks, two hours is not nearly enough sleep to make rational decisions or be creative on.

As for me, the end of my pregnancy was miserable, but his birth was uneventful–quick, even! However, I ended up back in the hospital for three days–I got postpartum pre-eclampsia again. So this means we are done having babies because almost dying a second time was really not on my list of things to do. Ugh. Then within my first week of being discharged we all got sick.  I ended up with the flu [despite getting a flu shot!] and pneumonia. Somehow I was able to keep from passing it to the baby, who just had a cold. If you’ve never dealt with a sick newborn, count your blessings. It’s miserable.

Now that my health and the baby’s well-being have been sorted out I’m able to finally get back to working on volume 3 of Atlantis: TVC. [Which I stupidly thought I would have done before I delivered. Very naive of me…] My issue with not getting it done is that so much more is going on than I had originally thought: scenes that I thought would be a few pages at most are ending up being entire chapters; scenes that I was excited for and looking forward to writing turned into plotting nightmares… so the word count is going much higher than I had initially planned. In fact, I’ve had to restructure the original end of the book [by moving some scenes and plot elements to volume 4] to help control the length. I’m already over my 55,000 word minimum and I’m only two-thirds of the way done! Since returning to writing, I’ve completed two chapters. It may not seem like much, but you have no idea how stuck I was on a certain scene. A critical exchange needed to happen between two characters and I didn’t want to screw it up. I like it the way it is now, but that’s not to say it won’t change during edits. [So much stuff changes during edits…]

On a final note, if you follow me on social media, then you already know that while I was on hiatus someone did a video review of volume 1! I always get nervous when there is a review done of my work; however she had nothing but good things to say–so that was a relief! Writing is such a personal thing, and despite the fact that when people review your work they’re reviewing your work and not you as a person, you still feel like you’ve failed somewhere when someone doesn’t like what you’ve done.

I’m gonna pull a Hermione here though and state for the record that it’s pronounced “Ah-chi-nay”. But the reviewer had a wonderful accent, so all is forgiven. :p

P.S: I love hearing from readers! If you’ve done a review of one my books, or have made a piece of fanart or anything like that, please drop me a line and I will check it out. [I might even showcase it on this blog!]

Real Life: Stranger Than Fiction

I got “House“-ed. Completely, utterly… and I didn’t realize it had happened until my husband said it while driving me home from the hospital yesterday.

In previous posts I’ve mentioned my ongoing struggle with my health. In this one, I even specifically call out the show House, M.D. for being unrealistic. [The TV show is unrealistic? My god someone alert the media, right?] The basic formula is that someone shows up in the ER at death’s door, the team of doctor characters take cracks at what it is, then House swoops in and figures it out in the last ten minutes or so. Pretty basic, but it makes the titular character look like a effortless genius that can diagnose people with a simple exam.

So, as you all know I am going to be having a baby soon, [and if you didn’t, then surprise!] and that it hasn’t been the easiest pregnancy. You also know through this post that I have an autoimmune disease called HS.

These things are all relevant–I promise.

This is fairly non-sequitur though.

This however,  is clearly non-sequitur

After I had my daughter four years ago, I developed what is known as “postpartum pre-eclampsia”. I had all the symptoms of pre-e before giving birth except for one. And without that one symptom [protein in urine] my OB wouldn’t hand down an official diagnosis. After I had my lovely little daughter, my body went nuts and I almost died. Very literally. If I hadn’t dragged my butt back to the ER three days after being discharged, I would have had a stroke and died that night.

In the years following that incident, I had problems with migraines, my overall health, and I was finally diagnosed with HS. I went on medicine to help with the HS and ended up accidentally pregnant. [And by accidentally I mean that I was diagnosed with infertility and after we tried to have a second kid for three years, thought my daughter would be the only one we’d ever have; despite me wanting at least one more. Until you inadvertently fix it, infertility is pretty amazing birth control.]

Since I had the history of pre-e, and I had recently developed a spike in blood pressure along with headaches, spots in my vision, and trouble breathing, my new OB decided to send me over to labor and delivery for observation. We headed over, thinking it would be a short trip; everything would get dismissed as being fine, then we’d go shopping like we had planned.

I ended up admitted, then rapidly transferred to a hospital with a level III NICU. My blood pressure was so high, they thought they might have to get the baby out of me that night. I’m twenty-four weeks… barely viable. I freaked out. My husband freaked out. My family freaked out. Contingency plans were rapidly made, all to adjust to possibly spending four months with a preemie in intensive care. The next twenty-four hours were filled with panic.

The baby looked great and was doing well despite me feeling like garbage, but something weird happened the next evening. They discovered that my blood pressure dropped a bit if I stayed on my left side all day long. If it was true pre-e, that wouldn’t have any effect. Later that night my high-risk OB decided to call in a [to me] strangely familiar-looking neurologist. Apparently there was a new theory–that I had some kind of pregnancy hormone-fueled tumor that might be causing symptoms that mimicked pre-e.

Cue more panic.

A brief scan put that theory to rest, but he decided to examine me further. He put his hands on a spot on my neck and I nearly flew up out of the bed from the pain. He told me my optic nerves were extremely swollen and that would cause the headache and spots. Then he sat down and asked me a bunch of questions about my medical history. I almost left out the HS because he would have been the fourth person I had to explain it to that day, but decided to go ahead anyway since it is a major, ongoing health issue for me. I needn’t have worried though–he knew what HS was already! I was shocked.

He had the nurse take a few vials of my blood, bring me ice packs, and give me a combination of meds to help bring the swelling down in my optic nerves. The medicine they gave me did help enough that I could finally get some sleep, but oh man the side effects were horrible. I started sweating profusely, the room became unbearably hot, I was jittery, and I felt like I was going to throw up. I fell into a fitful, drugged slumber sometime around one or two in the morning.

Shortly after five AM the neurologist came back, and in my half-asleep haze I realized why he seemed so familiar. He looked and sounded like Dr. Spaceman from 30Rock, just with fifteen years added! If I had been in any kind of frame of mind for joking, I might have told him as much, but I left it alone since he looked so serious. He started by telling me very specific things about my health that I hadn’t told him about: high anxiety that gets worse every year, the weird feeling in my tongue, being tired even after getting lots of sleep. Brain fog, my hair loss, digestive issues–he even knew about the muscle weakness I’ve been experiencing since I left my teens.

I’ve said before that autoimmune diseases often travel in groups, and I’ve always suspected that I would end up with another one sometime down the line. [I always figured it would be Lupus, for some reason. A lot of my symptoms fit.] But I wasn’t prepared for what the neurologist told me.

Pernicious Anemia.

Due to my jerk-ass, overactive immune system destroying a vital protein made by my gut, I cannot absorb vitamin B12 from food, or even from most vitamin supplements. I’ll never be able to. He said my levels of B12 were so critically low that he was both A.) shocked that I was pregnant at all; and B.) surprised I was lucid. Apparently when B12 levels get as low as mine, you get dementia and it is often mistaken for early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. He then proceeded to tell me that to have levels this low at my age, I have probably been affected by it since early childhood and that made it an autoimmune condition, in my case.

I was floored. So many of my health problems that couldn’t be linked to HS suddenly made sense the more we talked–my dark circles; thin, brittle hair and nails. The random muscle aches and numbness. Never feeling refreshed after sleep. Hurting myself in PE all the time. My clumsiness. Why my vision was fine until I turned thirty, then suddenly one day I couldn’t read words at a distance. How difficult it was to put my thoughts into words–it was all due to this. He then told me that since you can’t function without B12, if they hadn’t caught it now the pain would increase, I would have lost my mind over the next ten years, and died in my mid-forties.

I’ve had so many blood draws done over the years–even as a child. How was something so critical missed?! I asked, and it turns out that testing for B12 is something that has to be specifically requested, and my symptoms along with an already diagnosed autoimmune disease prompted him to test for it.

I had my first shot of artificial B12 a few hours after that. By that evening my blood pressure had dropped to normal levels, the spots in my vision had decreased, and I felt amazing–like I could bounce off the walls! My optic nerves are still swollen, but the neurologist said that he suspects they are damaged from a lifetime of insufficient B12. We won’t know the extent of the damage until my levels have been up for a while, and my body has a chance to repair what it can. I’ll need to have several shots at first to start healing, then I can start doing them every few weeks before trying an oral version made to be absorbed by people with this condition.

I’ll be on this treatment for the rest of my life, and it can still cause issues down the road if I don’t get my levels checked regularly. It’s hereditary, so now I need to have my own children tested; but on the bright side my oldest is only four so early intervention will save them from experiencing the issues I’ve faced, thankfully. In fact, my mother and brother are also getting tested because they share a lot of the same symptoms that I’ve had. My brother goes through several boxes of energy drinks a week–ones that specifically advertise having B12 in them. I was almost addicted to the same drink at one point; I felt noticeably better after drinking it, and not because of the caffeine. I would have one a day, and I only stopped drinking it when I was pregnant. I had been self-medicating, and he might be too.

So for the time being, I am still pregnant. Thankfully baby can stay in until he’s nice and ready to come out on his own because I am now getting the treatment that I have desperately needed my whole life. It’s insane to think that if not for this one incident–and one perceptive doctor–my future could have been very different. The whole situation feels like a cheap twist in a slice-of-life tale; forced, eleventh-hour tension added to an already over-dramatic arc.

…stranger than fiction, indeed.

Life Imitating Art

Have you heard about YInMn pigment in the news recently? It was discovered back in 2009, but a company is going to start producing a paint based on it so it’s recently become a hot story. Look at it–it’s beautiful, isn’t it?

Well, the Atlantians think so too, because it’s the royal color there. It’s on tapestries, banners, tabards–even the shingles on the roof of Castle Atlantis are painted in this color! [Which is funny because the pigment can be used to help with energy efficiency, especially when used on roofing.]

Based on the science behind it, it’s feasible that Atlantian alchemists could have come up with the same pigment. I wasn’t thinking of that when I was worldbuilding though. It just happens to be a nice coincidence. It also happens to be topical to volume 3, as that is where we get a closer look at alchemy in Atlantis. Prior to this volume, any references to alchemy have been rooted in medicine–potions, elixirs, topical remedies–that kind of thing. Soon, we get to see alchemy used in a functional sense, and as a weapon. This is especially fun [for me] because I get to write about an item I’ve thought about for years, and now it’s finally being used in the story!

Despite being at a point in my story I’m excited for, I’m finding it a bit difficult to write due to my illness, so I’m not writing as much as I would like. I keep hoping this particular flare will pass, and I won’t feel like a dirty sock lying in a gutter because it’s difficult to write when all you want to do is drag yourself toward the nearest soft object and lay there quietly. This unfortunately never happens because: three year-old. If I take my eye off her for a second, I am fishing a whole roll of toilet paper slurry out of the sink, or removing toys from the garbage disposal because she sits there and throws them at that side of the sink like she’s shooting hoops. I didn’t get a child that sits quietly and colors, or plays with toys–that’s for sure! [She gets that from her dad; I was the sit quietly child and he was… not, ha ha!] So most of my free energy is spent watching/interacting with her. By the time my husband gets home and I’ve cooked dinner, then washed the dishes, I feel like this clock:

Don’t get me wrong–I adore her. I just wish this disease didn’t rob me of so much energy. Sometimes my husband brings home take out, which is expensive but worth the sanity it provides me. Because I didn’t have to cook/do dishes tonight, I was able to catch up on laundry and write this post. How awful is that? I never imagined I’d be at a point in my life where I’d have to choose between cooking and doing laundry because I’d be too exhausted physically and mentally to do both in the same day.

I compromise by trying to be active on social media when I don’t feel up to writing. This way I at least feel like I’m doing something productive while waiting to feel better. So if this blog is quiet for too long, you can catch up with me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. I don’t bite–I swear!

The Masks We Wear Online

Yep, this again. Another post about social media.

I have three main social media pages I try to keep updated: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter–mostly in that order. I have found considerable positive traction on Instagram [of all places!] and I am gaining a little ground on Twitter now, which I honestly didn’t expect. It goes to show that if you throw yourself at something long enough, eventually something will stick. Though now all I have in my head after typing that is a mental image of me beating the hell out of Twitter like it’s an old console TV on its last legs.

I’ve considered a YouTube channel for a few months now, but that also involves the artistic side of my light novels so it gets backburnered easily. [And we all know what the comments section is like over there…]


Roughly, yes.

Social media has been my bugbear for a while now, but you already know this. I’m a private person by nature, and it’s been difficult for me to come out of my shell while lacking that magic confidence anonymity lends people. As Oscar Wilde said, “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth”. Despite this being stated a century before the internet would even become a thing, it seems to be more true now than when it was originally coined. Human nature doesn’t change much, and with the exception of a few outliers, we all want to be liked and accepted. It gives people a sense of value to feel like others appreciate them and their ideas.

Creators put the intimate workings of their mind on display for people to pick apart and dissect–whether it be music, writing, or artwork. Social media makes two things easy: putting your ideas in front of millions of people the world over all at once, and allowing them to judge it–and you–from behind the safety of their own mask.


Sometimes multiple masks at once…

I don’t like taking off my mask. It’s not that I am secretly a cruel or unpleasant person, [Though I feel that I am much more amicable online than off…] but that I feel my discomfort and worry bleed through my words. I’m scared. I hesitate. I re-word, erase, and refine: “Will they like this? What if someone thinks it’s awful–what if it goes viral for being terrible?” [Like that last one? I always jump to worst case scenarios.]

But to be a writer–nay, an author–you have to have a thick skin! That means you can’t be afraid to take off your mask. You can’t be afraid to put yourself and your work out there! You need to handle criticism and praise with equal parts grace and aplomb. If you even hint at uncertainty, your peers will repeat this as if it is a magic incantation that will remove your doubt. I even find me telling myself this sometimes, which is awkward.

So what is a writer to do when they need to be honest and real on social media in order to connect with others in an authentic way, but find themselves full of anxiety and fear? They either stop writing, or do the exact opposite of what they are instructed to do: they create a new mask.

But… the goal was to not have a mask, right? Well, we see what happens when famous people use social media without their masks on–it doesn’t work. They alienate people, and quickly; a few of them even lose fans, and access to their own accounts for it. So you end up creating this half-mask, like the Phantom of the Opera, where you are both open and honest, but also guarded. Telling people how they should feel is stealing their agency–if something someone says about you or your work bothers you, you have every right to be upset about it! But the way you wear your own mask when others are watching says more about you than any thinly-veiled rant or tear-stained tweet ever could.

Ultimately, the magic author incantation is a lie. You cannot follow it as written. There is no way you can completely turn off your ability to care what others think about you, even if you try to convince yourself otherwise. We’re only human, and fall easily back into old habits… we trade one mask for another. It’s not a bad thing; this way we can fulfill the spirit of the incantation while being honest to both ourselves and our followers.

I believed in it for too long. I tried to bend my own feelings to fit it, trusting that it was right despite it feeling all wrong. I should know by now to listen to my gut, even when it contradicts what seems like solid advice. I took an impromptu trip to visit family recently, and had a lot of time to think about my online presence while not having much of an outlet through which to curate it. I didn’t pack my laptop, so I had what I could reach with my phone. [It was mostly Instagram, and it was largely pictures of the forest around my parent’s place in Missouri. It was… quaint… and you didn’t miss too much. Just some lousy photography of trees, flowers and my poor, misplaced-but-well-taken-care-of cats.]

I worried about leaving it quiet for so long, but it didn’t seem to make a difference. Now that I’m back and updating, having had this revelation about masks, I am seeing a better response to my posts and tweets. It’s kind of magical in its own sense, but I know that it’s because I learned from my past experience, and was willing to go against what I was initially told to do.

The lesson in this is: Don’t be afraid to be yourself online, but don’t forget to protect yourself either. Remember that we’re all wearing masks out here–even when at first glance it may appear that some of us aren’t wearing one at all.

Modern Medicine

I have to remind myself that doctors are human. It’s easy to be angry when they say, “Well, you are having these symptoms, and they’re not good, but I don’t know why.“, especially when the symptoms are scary as hell and make you feel like death warmed over. I feel that medical dramas might be to blame, giving us bad expectations–especially shows like House M.D., where a team of doctors work tirelessly until they diagnose their patient. You don’t set out to have your expectations dictated by a TV show, but it happens anyway, on a subconscious level. In the real world doctors shrug, maybe throw some meds at you, run some general labs, and then see the next patient.

So we’ve spent several hundred dollars for twenty-five minutes of time and still have no idea why this is happening. Excellent. Thank you.

I sound bitter. I know doctors go through several years of schooling to learn their craft, but I can’t help but feel like it’s a huge cash grab. I would feel better if there was some trying going on. That’s why I’m bitter. I still feel like crap. I could have gone to see my auto-immune doctor, received the same answer, and saved money. [At least I could have complained about this horrible flare that seems less like a flare-up as the weeks pass and more like a new normal, which is bullshit.]

I am sick of nearly passing out when I stand for longer than ten minutes. I am sick of feeling physically exhausted after being awake for six hours. I am sick of trying to do anything through this brain fog. My blood pressure is still ridiculously low. Why won’t it go up? No one can tell me, but doctors keep saying to eat more salt. Why is the answer always more salt? I find myself trying to self-diagnose through Google, and I know that’s foolish, but doing nothing feels like giving up. I figure at best I can find an answer–at worst I can find a list of things to look for that I can bring to a doctor. [Which they hate, by the way. I love that “Fuck you, I went to medical school, you fuck” look they get when I tell them I was looking up stuff online and my symptoms match the following conditions, so if maybe they could consider those when they are looking me over that would be great.]

In short, if you ever want to feel like a horrible waste of time, get a condition no one can diagnose. [I don’t recommend this though.]

How I feel about going to the doctor…

On to something different! I’m trying to force myself to do things–life things–despite my body’s desire to do nothing but decompose slowly on the sofa. Dishes, eating food, laundry, video games, writing… Yes, I have to force myself to play video games, because that’s what my life is now–I am too exhausted to even do stuff I used to do to avoid responsibility. But writing is in there, even if what I’m putting down is absolute garbage. I’m hoping that future me can turn the word vomit into something usable when I do first edits. [I have a lot of faith in future me. Somehow she’s not dead, and full of energy and/or inspiration. Somehow.]

Also, I’m going on a trip soon, to visit family. It was rather impromptu, and I’m a little nervous about traveling while feeling like this, but I’m hoping that I can try to unwind a little. Between the health problems, stress, and my daughter fully embracing the Threenage Life, I need some kind of break. Or I’ll break.

The Little Things We Take For Granted

I’ve had enough. I stole my husband’s keyboard.

Last night as we climbed into bed we were talking about my book sales over past weekend [The recent Heartwarming Sale was a huge success!] and I was saying how I needed to get started on the third volume of Atlantis: TVC soon, but that even typing up the outline was difficult because the keyboard I had bought to fit the smaller space available on my desk was too stiff to write on. So half-asleep he proposes: “Why don’t we just trade keyboards?”

Now, for reference, I had asked him to trade keyboards when I was still using my giant gaming keyboard and he said no, despite having way more desk space than I do. Now that I spent money on a new, smaller, stiffer keyboard he’s changed his mind? I say as much, and get nothing but a snore in response.

My husband never remembers anything he says while half-asleep. So after he left for work today I switched our keyboards. I’m writing this entry from his keyboard now, and it’s amazing. I press a key, and it actually goes down! I don’t have to smash certain keys to get the fact that I have touched them to register! My backspace is normal size! Bliss.

Fortunately for me he’s on a miniature kick right now so he’s building armies and hasn’t been on the computer in almost two weeks. He still has several boxes left to put together and paint; it could be months before he notices.

I never thought I could hate a keyboard so much. I mean, I could have sucked it up and bought a different one, but not many are compact enough to fit in the space I have available. Plus there was no floor model for this particular board, so I couldn’t test it at the store. I tried everything I could think of to break it in, but even with several weeks of that there were still problem keys. I mean, I would be writing for five minutes, go back, and realize most of my words were missing the letter A. My fingertips hurt after typing on that thing! I looked up the model online to see if anyone else had that issue, or if it was just me. It was at this point that I discovered there were whole forums dedicated to “keyboard feel” and I was stunned. I wish I had known keyboard feel was a thing before I bought a new one. I thought that for typing, all keyboards were keyboards! Turns out that I am a dumbass and unknowingly bought one of the stiffest boards on the market.

SiiG JK-US0012-S1. DO NOT BUY.
Model: JK-US0012-S1. The “JK” stands for “Just Kidding–ha ha, you thought this was functional!“, right?

 

So I suffered through two months of crappy keyboard for nothing.

Well… part of that was negated by my torn rotator cuff, so it’s more like a month and a half–but it was still a month and a half of hurt fingers and swearing! At any rate, I’m finishing up my outline and plan to break ground on volume #3 tonight after the little one goes to bed. I am ridiculously excited to write again, and I hope to get this volume out just as fast as the first one. My goal was originally to release two books a year, [Back then I didn’t know any better!] but on average it takes me six to seven months to write the first draft, then two more months for edits, revisions, and creating the artwork. That means each book takes around nine months from start to finish and my output is two books every year and a half–which isn’t too bad considering that I’m raising a kid and sleeping on the rare occasion as well.

I already have a complicated relationship with sleep without hating the fact that I need so much of it to function. Besides that, energy drinks aren’t the greatest thing for you–and I have something like a +25 versus caffeine, which sucks. When I get in a writing [or drawing] groove the first thing I do is a quick calculation of what time the kid will wake up, and how much sleep I would get if I could only keep writing for just one more hour! Before I know it many hours have passed, and I only get three hours of sleep before my three year-old is running around and trying to climb the walls while I stumble out to the couch and stare bleary-eyed into space while cursing the me of last night who thought it was soooo important to finish that chapter. Also, once I achieve enough alertness to even think of reading what I wrote, there is a 75% chance I will hate it and need to rewrite whole sections of it.

All this would be made a thousand times worse by having to do it on The Worst Keyboard in Existence. I have never been so happy to be rid of something in my life!

Well, except maybe that landlord who used to sneak into our house when she thought we weren’t home. She’d eat our food, and once she came over naked to do it. Ugh. Why did I have to remember that, of all things? Thanks, brain.

Injured! [Again]

So, uh, I tore my left rotator cuff a few days ago, and now my arm is in a sling.

Pro: It was my left, so I can still draw. Con: Can’t type. [Doing this single-handed right now, so it’s short.]

So if you don’t hear from me for a few weeks, don’t be horribly surprised. [I’m still going to put short things up on my Facebook and Instagram because I can copy/paste.]

For now, enjoy this video of me sketching some Atlantis characters!

https://www.facebook.com/authormelissawong/videos/745902278873010/

I Live! [Sort of]

I know I’ve been quiet for a while, and I apologize. We’re preparing to move this weekend and it’s been crazypants. I have no idea what to expect; I’ve never moved into a new place with a toddler–just out of an old one.

So this will be interesting.

I also have a story to tell but I’ll have to do it tomorrow or the next day. It’s long, and right now I just want to sleep. Sleeeeeeep~

The Treasures of Maps

It’s funny how varied the places are from which we look back. Sometimes it’s merely a few months; maybe a few years.

Other times, it’s seventeen years and it completely takes you by surprise.

I’m pretty sure I’ve talked about how Atlantis: TVC was originally conceived while I was in high school, in geography class; because sitting around after finishing a test is boring as… well, staring at a wall. [and if not, you now know.]

I was digging around in my documents folder and I found a stash of old files related to the original concept of Atlantis from the 90s that had somehow survived four hard drive failures, and moving across three laptops! One of those files was a map.

While this isn’t the original map–the true original one was drawn in pencil in the notebook of a former friend along with several early iterations of Achine’s design, and is long lost to me–it’s the closest thing I still have of it. It’s a horrible scan, with the levels screwed around to remove the lines from the notebook paper, then colored sometime in 2000/2001 in Photoshop. I cringe when I look at this. Cringe. Then I remember that I was fifteen at the time, and teenagers aren’t known for their cartography. I redid the Atlantian map last year when I was in the planning phase of Volume #1. This is the current map, the one you see at the front of the books.

Like night and day! You can see where I actually did research into geographical features and map making instead of half-assing it like Teen Mel did. Things moved; were renamed, rearranged. You can even see the original sigil on the first one, and how it has changed too. [It had an arrow in it, and was three-toned for no damn reason. Teen Mel made some bad choices.]

My point in dragging this out is that reflection is good. Keep your old stuff–look back on it frequently. Laugh at it. Cry if you want to. Cringe. Hold it close, because it’s precious.

Wait, what?

Yes, it’s precious. There is no way to measure how much we have grown if we have no point to compare it to! I’ve been feeling down about everything lately–and it has started to bleed over into my work, bringing my writing to a halt. But you know what? Seeing that stupid old map [circa 1998, yo!] made me realize that I may feel bad now, but in the future I will look back on this point and feel like I am doing better than right now. It was fortunate that I stumbled upon it, because it reminded me that my future self will always be better than my current self as long as I keep moving forward, practicing, trying new things–improving.

Here’s to many cringe-inducing looks backward to come! Now if you’ll excuse me, I also found an old fanfic I wrote from the same year, and I have plans to read it and hate myself. I’m sure it’s horrible.

If you need me, I’ll be hiding my shame behind this cat…