Hurry Up and Wait
May 6, 2021
So, it's been a hot minute since I've made any updates to my site. Progress on Mark of the Champion has swung from long periods of waiting for beta readers (to be fair, one of them was waiting for me as well - we did a manuscript beta swap), to painstaking word count reduction, adding details and filling small plot holes (that of course increased the word count again), to the present, where I'm patiently waiting for my sensitivity reader to return my manuscript after a solid month of apprehension.
The stretches between milestones for MOTC are partly due to health issues for two family members. My husband Fred has had several medical appointments ranging from lens replacement surgery in his left eye, to crowns on his teeth, to twice-yearly brain MRIs to verify he's still cancer-free. My mom's had a condition called venuos stasis ulcers on her legs for a year, although the last should be clear soon. She's had trouble moving due to strokes and mini-strokes, and she's endured two falls that temporarily impeded her walking. I'm happy to report that she's moving again with a wheeled walker, but still needs support, as she lives alone. Between Fred's needs, Mom's needs, and holding down a full-time job, I frequently deal with overwhelm and exhaustion, and thus don't spend as much time maintaining my website, social media, etc. as I should.
While I'm waiting for notes from the sensitivity reader, I've been doing research to completely rewrite "The Knight at the Museum." My beta feedback showed me that I need to raise the stakes in terms of suspense, action, and magical events. I'm visiting buildings similar to how I think the museum would look, to see how the architecture would benefit or hinder my heroes. I hope to have a brand-new version complete by the end of May for another round of betas.
Once I've implemented the sensitivity reader's suggestions/notes for MOTC, I will book the developmental editor. I already have one in mind, but since progress on the book has been so slow, I may have to wait for months. My target timeframe for the release of Mark of The Champion is in either August or September of 2022, so I've got some time, but booking anyone is still a nail-biter. I'm also apprehensive about commissioning character art and the book cover for MOTC. Part of the problem is I can't commission art for one of the characters until he's vetted by the SR. Hopefully I won't need to make many changes to him.
In non-book news, Fred and I got a new (to us) car! Our old Toyota Yaris, that we bought new and drove for fourteen years, was close to 195,000 miles on the speedometer. The 'check engine' light had been on for over a year, and the engine itself started to give out. We traded it in for $500 and bought a 2015 Toyota Venza, a larger car with four doors, a roomy back hatch, a rear-view backup camera, and Bluetooth. There has definitely been a learning curve with this car (I've set off the alarm by mistake three times), but we love our new ride.
Gradually I will bring the rest of my site up to date. I still have issues with the URL not working without the (www.) in front. I've looked into all the website building companies, and not one has been as easy to use or maintain as my good ol' Google Site. This may change in the future, but for now, this is my online home, and I'm glad you came to visit.
Character Sketch: Keoki Kapono
December 18, 2019
Keoki Kapono is the Ambassador for the Unified Realms, under the constitutional rule of Queen Toria. Born and raised on O'ahu, he has equal parts Hawaiian and Scottish heritage. Keoki serves as mentor, sidekick, and father figure to Sheila Berenger, a young woman accidentally marked for a challenging destiny.
The beginnings of Keoki as a character come from my fanfic-writing days. His first incarnation was in a massive Star Wars fic I wrote after the release of "Revenge of the Sith." (The fic is unpublished, and always will be.) He was a blue-skinned native of the planet Korriban, a descendant of members of the Sith race who went into hiding when the fallen Jedi, who became the powerful Sith Lords, took over. (I imagined the original Sith weren't evil, just Goth.)
Blue Alien Keoki shared many traits with Earth Human Keoki: gravelly voice, a longshoreman's profane vocabulary, berserker fighting skills, and a deep well of compassion. When I began the first draft of "Mark of The Champion," even when I was still defining who Sheila was, I knew who I wanted to be her travelling companion. Keoki is both Obi-Wan, and anti-Obi-Wan, to complement Sheila's mix of idealism and sarcasm.
Keoki Kapono (art by me)
Keoki in MOTC has had a hard sixty-five years. He had an abusive father, lost people close to him to disease and tragedy, and served time in prison. In addition, he's connected to an entity made of one hundred demons combined. Some aspects of his backstory arose from my research on the plight of Native Hawaiians throughout history, from the arrival of the first missionaries and colonists to today. Other aspects were based on the experiences of people I know.
This is the first sketch I made of Keoki when I could no longer stand to only see him in my mind. He wears a black leather Harley-Davidson vest over a black tank, black motorcycle boots, a black Glengarry bonnet, and a kilt made with the official State of Hawai'i tartan. (He doesn't wear his family tartan, which reminds him of his father.) His toolkit includes a first-aid pack, several magical stones and other items, a bastard sword, and a flask of Jack Daniel's, his occasional coping mechanism.
A few months after I completed this sketch, I commissioned the amazing Riley Schroeder to draw a portrait of Keoki that was closer to how I imagined he looked. You can see his portrait, and those of all the other principal characters in "Mark of The Champion," in the Gallery.
How to Write a Novel in Just Ten Years
September 23, 2019