Story Time (And Some Art Updates)

Hello. Is this thing still on?

Ah. Just the thing my writing blog needs. A microphone joke.

Admittedly, I had taken a personal break from this blog. Well, a lot of my social media for some time. Over the past few months I’ve been withdrawn and began to doubt the validity of this career path.

It all began back in August. I was just finishing my MFA in Creative Writing through SNHU. I should’ve been happy right? On top of the world?

Seems like such a lonely place up there.

Only I wasn’t. I can’t explain it. I just kept having this feeling of being empty and unaccomplished. And of course all I had to show for it was a 40,000$ bill. Broke literally…and I guess sort of mentally also.

Spilt metaphors on aisle 6.

This is–I have learned–a feeling that is becoming mutual all over the world. A lot of people are experiencing the weight of this virus, and the weight only grows heavier as the months drag on.

We’ve been made promises about cures…but there’s still no cure.

We’ve been told things would go back to normal soon…yet everything is still far from normal.

Which brings me to the break. You see, writing for me had always been an escape. The computer screen and the blinking cursor was like stepping into a fantasy world of my own creation. Now the thought of staring at another computer screen after teaching over multiple zoom meetings a day had become a sickening thought. Add to that the phone screen and building a social media presence. I guess you could say everything was sort of starting to jumble together in my personal, professional, and social life. In other words, there became no disconnect from the Matrix if you will.

Featured: Graduating class of 2025.

Well is there a solution you ask?

Yes…and, I’m still not so sure.

I started by examining the beginnings of this chosen writing career. I guess you could say it started when I was thirteen. I was playing a video game and an idea popped into my head.

What would happen if you had triplets separated at birth? Would they fight? Be best friends? Harbor misplaced feelings? Kill each other?

Basically every family reunion ever.

I sat at that Windows 2000 of ours and just let the words flow onto the paper. Grammar? None. Spelling mistakes? Plenty. Yet, I had a story to tell and I wasn’t going to stop until the ideas were there on a document.

To give you an idea of how old this story is, I still have the original manuscripts on floppy drives.

“Okay, Boomer.” Wait, I was born in the eighties. “Okay, Grandpa Millennial?”

And I think of all the time I must’ve had back then. It was almost Stephen King levels of devotion to writing. As soon as I finished one manuscript I would title the next one and begin working on it.

This continued well into my twenties. But right around age twenty-five, I suddenly took a break.

I remember writing a scene for one of the triplets. I put him into such a terrible position that I had to step back and ask, “Wait, how is he going to get out of this?”

It took me five years to answer that question.

Since then I’ve been going strong. A couple of years ago I decided to pursue an MFA in creative writing and show others what I had been tinkering on for a decade and a half.

And to my surprise, people enjoyed what they read.

Maybe not this much. But still, they were reading it.

It boosted my confidence exponentially. Suddenly, I had to start putting more of my writing out there.

Around this same time I was watching what should’ve been Heath Ledger’s entry into Masterpiece Theater. I am of course referring to A Knight’s Tale.

A Knight's Tale shows us what true love is | by Robert Heckert | Medium
Hands down the greatest biopic about Geoffrey Chaucer ever put to screen.

Suddenly I was like…what if I wrote a jousting scene?

And from this one idea, my official debut novel was born: Maiden to None.

Wait…new concept. Underwater jousting??? Actually, not so sure horses can hold their breath.

After taking some advice from a very wise literary agent, I decided to separate my triplets by writing their own individual stories into separate novels.

Maiden to None told the story of Trinity, the only sister of the trio. And her story begins when she illegally enters her grandfather’s jousting tournament dressed as a knight.

Oooh, shiny.

Now of course with anything put out there for the world to see, you will get your fair share of criticism.

However, this business slowly–sometimes very slowly–taught me to be thick-skinned when it came to my writing.

And everyday I was learning new lessons and applying them to my novel.

You could imagine my joy when this book finally came to a close. Time to move onto novel two, right?

If you weren’t expecting a however, you haven’t been paying attention to where I’m going with this.

Coronavirus struck. Computers became the norm. Working from home didn’t have a punch-out time card.

Again, there became no disconnect. Suddenly the world I created was fading and the one that I was in was slowly growing darker.

I’d like to tell you that one day I’ll just pull myself up by the bootstraps and start writing intensely again. But to be honest, I don’t know what the future holds.

The whole world–it seems–forgot how to enjoy the time that we are still given.

I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said  Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for
Ah Gandalf. Is there ever a time where that quote isn’t exactly the thing I need to hear.

So…yeah. I guess I needed a mental health break. But, I am coming back as best as I can. I’ve even begun writing the next book in my series. I will say (spoiler alert) that so many horrible things happen to the next triplet in my series that it’s almost hard–now writing it as a parent–to subject him to these tragedies. But I suppose Duke and I will just have to find a way to cope through these uncertain times. Together.

For now though, I will focus on the good.

Wifey is having another baby soon. I can already tell she’s going to be a little rockstar. Can’t wait to meet you Mattie.

Ultrasound high five!

And incase you didn’t know, I’ve been working with a super-talented, very professional artist by the title of ArtInInsanity. Find her fantastic artwork here at: and be sure to catch her streams on Twitch.

Together we have been coming up with some pretty rad chapter headers for Maiden to None. I suppose in about six months I will know for certain if I am going to self publish and get to utilize this amazing art, or if I will continue to try and go traditional.

Either way, Maiden to None will soon be ready to be experienced by all.

And with any luck, The Good Shield–which is book two in my series–will not be far behind.

So I wanted to end this rambling reasoning for why I’ve been absent by showing once more the chapter headers that Artininsanity has been creating for me. However, this time I will explain some fun tidbits behind each one.

Enjoy. Like. Subscribe. You are awesome.

And remember…we’re all in this together.

I wanted to capture two opposites in this image. Not only was the artist able to do so wonderfully, but you almost feel bad for the boy with the hair in his face.
Maybe it’s the love for Gandalf. Or maybe I just really needed to see one cool person in this universe early on who didn’t act all prim and proper, but naturally made you want to respect them.
Actually the idea for this one was height differences. The Terkian race are somewhat short. Hydlixians on the other hand are very tall and I think Evita radiates that southern ocean kingdom’s pride of hers with the poised look. Trinity on the other hand looks annoyed and ready to go do her own thing as soon as she can escape from her aunt’s grasp. Foreshadowing?
Tell me this doesn’t scream Peter Pan. I love this image so much. It also gives a brief look at the coastal Hydlix. And yes, the sun does rise in a different direction in this world.
Again we have opposites here, as well as a brief introduction to one of my favorite characters. Thanks to a helpful beta reader, I was able to give this lion a much stronger presence in the novel than previous drafts had allowed.
Another favorite, and really the credit all goes to the artist on this one. She captured the childlike innocence, but also the look of what a kid would be like in an expensive coat that was gifted to them with no strings attached. Kudos!
The idea for this one came from an image I had seen online a long time ago. I am so impressed with how the artist brought it together and made it a unique portrait of a girl who is starting to doubt what is undoubtedly her greatest gift. Hmm, maybe this one hit a little too close to home.
Again, all credit to the artist on this one. I was so impressed that she made the contents of the chest so important and relevant to what was occurring in the novel at the time.
A first glimpse at a future antagonist. Honestly, my only regret is that I didn’t get to include Kember more in the first book. No worries though. She has a major importance in the continuing story.
For some reason, this was my most popular image on Twitter. I think it is because people genuinely want to try and play the game of King’s Circle, which is in fact a game I did create. But thankfully, the artist was able to make it look AWESOME and indeed playable. If the whole book thing doesn’t work out, I will definitely get into the board game industry next.
No description available.
Schobe! Honestly, he’s just my favorite character and probably the one I relate to most. He’s not strong, or super talented. But he is the loyal knight everybody needs as a best friend. Also, his name is the hardest to pronounce in the book. I had to add a whole line just to stop the confusion. Sounds like ear lobe.
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Okay, this one actually does have context. Every year my 8th graders read Ray Bradbury’s “The Drummer Boy of Shiloh.” There is a wonderful description of how the smell of tobacco from the general reminds the boy of his own father. This is Guren in a nutshell! Every time Trinity thinks of him she is reminded of two things: tobacco and hot tea.
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The lion!! I wanted him big. And he looks ginormous compared to Trinity. It is also noted that the inspiration from this scene came from one of my very favorite shows of all time, Dragonball Z. However, there is definitely some Miyazaki-esqueness to the artwork. One of my absolute favorites. So blessed to be working with such a talented artist.
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If evil had a face. Here is a character who has gone through so many iterations over the last twenty years. However, I think I have finally arrived at exactly what I want out of the sinister Prince Hayden. A young man who is plotting. Unfortunately for him, he is plotting against the titular Maiden to None. It won’t end pretty for him.

That is all for now. All told we only have about eight more left in the series of images. Can’t wait to see how they all turn out and hoping they make it into the final product in some way, shape, or form.

3 thoughts on “Story Time (And Some Art Updates)

  1. As I eagerly await your next story I understand the need for a break. Especially in these tough times. I am glad to hear you actually put yourself first. Health and happiness above all else. Stay strong and I am so looking forward to reading Dukes story. More so, very anxious to see him come to life with Artininsanity. She’s amazing.


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