Showing posts from 2015

Two Steps Back and One Baby Step Forward

Saving old drafts is an important part of the writing process, as is accepting the fact that sometimes life can take you down the wrong editing path.  I had to learn this hard lesson in the past few months when I hit a few unexpected challenges. My daughter was born in September.  The Centernia sequel, The Crimson Mage was completed in the weeks prior to her arrival.  I was pleased that I was on track to release the book by the end of the year.  I figured I had plenty of time finish editing it, run it by my trusted circle of proofreaders, and then send it to the copyeditor.  It seemed that the book would be out by December. People had cautioned that the baby would send a wrench into my plans, but I generally try to ignore naysayers and steam (or stumble) through life.  In my mind I had a perfect plan to keep working once my girl arrived:  While she napped, I would edit and write.  If sleep deprivation became awful, I would switch to formula and shift half the overnight feeds to my

Centernia: A One Year Retrospective

September 2nd holds significance to Centernia as it's the day Muse died and the same day first printed proof arrived in the mail.  It truly marks the beginning of Return to the Castle. This has been a whirlwind, and I have learned so much and am so grateful.  We did a pre-order at RocCon in Rochester, NY in mid-September, and followed it with a full launch at New York Comic Con in October.  After which, the book was whisked to Detroit for Youmacon, Genericon in Troy, Anime Boston, Tora Con, Sci-Fi Valley Con. I learned some rough lessons too.  The first edition was edited, but errors still snuck through and I put out an updated edition in February. The hardest lesson I've learned is that writing a sequel is not as easy as I had anticipated.  My husband chides me, reminding me that the core story of Return to the Castle was the story I had written and re-written over a half dozen times before I froze it into its final printed form.  It's natural that this story will be

Q and A: Cursing

Where does the curse blood'ura come from? Writing the curses of Centernia was as enjoyable as creating the creatures and places. Blood'ura is an abbreviation for Blood of Aurora, very similar insult to the Shakespearian zounds, meaning Christ's Wounds. There is a joy in creating insults that are really close to the english in cadence and consonant sounds. I have growing library file where I collect these bad-sounding yet technically completely innocuous words. My favorites? Maggot suckin', bloody shunt, rock sucker, goat screw, tick and jackhole. In the next book, will we learn more about the fallout between Jessica's parents? Yes. There is definitely a lot more story to unearth from the past. The scars run deep. Why did you decide to write Return to the Castle? Where do you get your ideas? I get asked this question a lot. I wrote Return to the Castle because I had to. The characters have a comfortable residence in my mind, and they tell me their stori

Q & A: How do you pronounce.....?

How do you pronounce the names and places of Centernia?  Here is a very straightforward guide to all names and places unusual! Castlefolk Nicoveren Aristo Verdian: "Neek-o-varen Ah-risto Vare-de-an" Teren Wynter:   "Tare-en Winter" Artemisa Wynter: "Art-a-mee-sa Winter" Kaity Cosette: "Kate-e Co-zette" Corwin Evansi: "Core-win Ev-an-see" Jared Evansi: "Ja-red Ev-an-see" Alba: "All-ba" Savina: "Sah-vee-nah" Wadjette:  "Wa-jet" Jiberty: "Jib-er-ty" Abrianna: "Ah-bree-ana" Aden: "Aye-den" Otto Onyxgrove: "Ot-oh On-ex-grove" Elina: "Ell-eena" Circusfolk Amberynn:  "Amber-rin" Malachi: "Male-uhk-eye" Cobalt: "Co-ballt" Places Centernia:  "Sent-urn-e-uh" Aurumice:  "Or-uh-mice" or "Aura-mice" Trabalis: "Trah-ball-is" Briken: "Bry-ken"

Back in the Saddle

I generally don't share personal issues with readers, but my online hiatus has been so long it's been noticeable.  The good news is, as of this posting, I am back to my usual online schedule of one blog post a week, and more Centernia art. As some of you know from meeting me at conventions, I'm expecting a baby in September. :-)  In order to avoid a studio/nursery combo room, we bought a house.  We packed and moved in late June. The month of July, I direct Kids on Campus, the largest and oldest art tech summer camp program hosted at RIT.  This is a hugely time intensive camp that took almost all of my energy. Normally, I de-stress by writing and drawing, but the universe has a terrible sense of humor.  Since April I've been plagued by an unusual pregnancy symptom.  The nerves in my spine were compressed and gave me crippling pain when sitting.  Yes, sitting.  I could lie down, walk a mile, pull weeds on my hands and knees.....but I couldn't sit at a computer fo

Reader Q & A: I bought Return to the Castle, but the book for sale now looks different than my copy, why?

A revised edition of Return to the Castle was released in February 2015. This edition catches many of the editing errors that snuck through in the first release.   The most notable difference is the chapter numbers. Though the books have the same content and the same scenes, they were split differently so that the new edition has one less chapter. You can figure out which version of the book you have by looking at the back cover. A little bird has been added on the newer edition for easy identification. :-)

Peak into the Office Studio

Hi everyone, I know we've been quiet over at the past week.  There is a very good reason why. Many artists and authors have a studio or office in-house. It's a private sanctuary where they can work on ideas. The office where I wrote the majority of Return to the Castle is a small spare bedroom in my townhouse.  I love being surrounded by a color-controlled environment where everything has a visual harmony. I usually work on a triple-monitor setup, (Cintiq, laptop, external monitor). I keep a select number of books on the shelf, primarily art books and references. I have a desk for traditional drawing and painting supplies. Unfortunately, I don't work in real media much anymore with the exception of pencil. Any art in the room has special meaning to me. This is a vintage poster from my hometown of Syracuse, and these metal figurines were a highschool graduation gift from Mrs.Weiss, the teacher mentioned in my dedication.   This last photo is bitte

Playlist Feature: Scorpians

I write Centernia while listening to music.  This week we have a song from the early 90s that influenced Return to the Castle.  I'm so in love the live version of this because the cello is so strong. Scorpians: Send me An Angel Album: Crazy World 1990

Reader Q & A: Rapidfire Responses 2

Jessi on horseback,1997 1. Do you consider Centernia to be anthro lit? Are you a furry? In the late 1990s, in the days before Deviant Art, there were not a lot of great digital art communities other than Elfwood. While stumbling through the internet I found a community called Yerf,(subtitled the Squeaky Clean Furry Archive). I became addicted to the website and learned an enormous amount about digital art through the other artists. Yerf was all anthro or furry art, and that influenced my early art and writing. When I wrote the first draft of Centernia, the premise involved shape-shifting. When a human crossed the Gate they became feline. Much of the old art of Centernia depicts Jessi in cat-form. At some point in high school I altered this plot element and introduced the concept of magic users instead, finding it more versatile and interesting. I like anthro art and find anthro characters fun to draw. I've never been into the community enough to ever consider being a fursuiter

Creature Feature: The Burch

     They traveled across a small wooden bridge over a pristine pond. In the water below, small brown hippopotamus turtles waded through the mud. Water sloshed up onto their patterned shells.      “What are those?” Jessica asked.      “The burch,” Misa explained. “They’re a little tough but they taste good in a sauce.”        Jessica couldn’t imagine killing one of the dog-sized beasts. They seemed so happy in their watery little home.   --Return to the Castle Mud Loving Creatures The water-dwelling burch are very common throughout the continent of Madierna.  Most often they are found in muddy, swampy areas where they eat insects, small fish, and freshwater plankton. Burch species range from approximately eight inches to as much as three feet.  They have leathery skin and unique shell patterns.  These marsh-loving creatures have been described as being very similar to the tortoise, though they can move much quicker on land.  Burch are monotremes and lay eggs buried dee


Centernia has just entered an agreement with ComicPOPShop for distribution in conventions across the southern US.  What does that mean? Centernia will be brought to more cons to reach more fans, who will have access to exclusive and awesome Centernia merch. :-D Centernia will be featured at the ComicPOPShop booth at Comicpalooza in Houston, TX on May 22 - 25, 2015.

Q & A: How did you make Nico different from a standard prince-charming character? (and thank you!)

Nico is a character that has gone through a great deal of growth since 1997.  In the beginning, he was a stereotypical prince, perfect in every way right down to his blonde hair.  But perfect is boring. The Evolution of Nicoveren Aristo Verdian As a teen, I was lucky to come across  How to Write Sci-Fi and Fantasy  by Orson Scott Card . This volume was my foundation for learning how to write.  The book suggested that the weakest characters in a story are actually the nobility.  They don't have the flexibility to go on adventures and they are always under public scrutiny. Centernia has always had Castle Aurumice.  I needed to find a way to keep the castle, but tone down the nobility.  I couldn't quite figure out how until I was a college student living at RIT.  I lived five years in the dorms and loved every minute.  I was intrigued by the social dynamics, the arguments and the wonderfully crazy situations that occur when you lived in close quarters with a wildly diverse

Reader Q & A: Rapidfire responses

Which Centernia characters do you ship? I don't think the creator is allowed to ship, are they? Otherwise it becomes canon, and what fun is a ship if it becomes insta-canon? I will say I love hearing fan ship-theories.  The castlefolk are not exactly conservative in choosing bedfellows and some of your romance theories may be very true. Is Malachi a sinari? No, Malachi is not sinari. The castlefolk follow him easily because he was one of their leaders years ago.  He is charismatic to some and obnoxious to others.  It seems like there is never a grey area with Malachi, you love him or hate him. How do you find the time to write and keep a full time job? I work a thirty hour workweek formally and spend the rest of my time freelance illustrating and working on Centernia.   There are many days that the dishes may sit in the sink because the castlefolk are more important.  I don't play video games and I rarely watch tv.  Physical activity is of high value to me and I wil

Centernia Themes

Digging through the old Centernia archives, we uncovered a few gems created almost ten years ago. As I tend to write to music, it seemed appropriate Centernia have its own theme.  My husband Jamil skillfully composed these for me. Two versions exist.  One has a softer more natural sound and the other relies more heavily on synthesizers.  Feel free to post in the comments which you prefer. Centernia Theme: Spirit of the Castle    If you cannot see the audio controls, your browser does not support the audio element Centernia Theme: Forever a Guardian    If you cannot see the audio controls, your browser does not support the audio element

Creature Feature: Bicorns

The bicorn is one of the most iconic creatures in the land of Centernia.  In the southern lands and coasts of Galbrian they are known as the vishalli . In the east, they are called the demon chasers. They are an intelligent and dangerous creature, but when well-trained, a highly prized companion. The species originated in the harsh arctic northern lands on the continent of Madierna. Bicorns have many very unique features, making them desirable mounts.  They are muscular and possess a resilient endurance, high intelligence and a wild fearlessness.  A single bicorn can easily cost four times as much as a well-bred horse. Bicorns are largely omnivorous creatures.  It is believed in times of vegetative scarcity they rooted out grubs and other small dirt-dwelling insects.  Over time, this insect-eating trait grew to encompass larger creatures such as mice and squirrels.  Full-grown adult bicorns have been known to eat prey as large as a rabbit or fish, though mice and grubs are much

Q & A: Misa's hair

Q: What color is Misa's hair? A: In Return to the Castle, Misa's hair is referred to as black, dark and reddish-brown.  A few readers have pointed out this discrepancy. As an artist, I suffer from the curse and blessing of not thinking of colors in absolutes. A color is what it is at that very moment, whether it be the grey of a river on an overcast autumn day or a chamber basked in the orange glow of the dying sun. In the sections where Misa's hair is referred to as black, it's a low-light situation. Misa's hair is red-brown when there is more light present. Have Centernia questions? Contact us!

Centernian Fashion Part 3: Armor

Links to part 1 and 2 of this series: Centernian Fashion Part 1: Basic Attire Centernian Fashion Part 2: Jewelry and Footwear Daywatch and Nightwatch of Trabalis The uniform of the Watch of Trabalis is a very traditional armor set.  The core of the armor's protection is an undersuit of black dragon hide.  As Misa once mentioned to Jessica, black dragon hide is a misnomer, as it comes from a water beast that is not a dragon nor is it black. Often this hide is a charcoal grey or brown.  The Watch of Trabalis will dye the hide a more vibrant color such as dark blue, deep green or crimson, depending on the district.   Over the black dragon hide suit, the Watch will wear metal armor plates.  Swirls and patterns are commonly added to the design of armor, giving it a distinct elegance.  As the Watch has not engaged in any major military entanglements in over seventy years, the armor focuses more on form than function. Despite the armor's decorative appearance, make no mistake

March Centernia Update and Playlist Feature

This weekend we returned from the first con of the year, Genericon.  It was awesome meeting the crowd out at Rensselaer.  Now we have Anime Boston and Tora Con coming up in April. I just finished the art for an article on armor in Centernia.  You can expect to see that article popping up soon.  Book Two is progressing at a good pace, I'm now muddying through that editing process, ripping out chapters, writing new ones. People have been asking questions about the second book. We're not letting Nico die in the Mines of Briken... I can also say that we will be seeing a bit more of Polaris Aacademy and the Holy Circus.  Also, gryphons. Today I'm pulling a song from my playlist, Lost it All by Black Veil Brides.  This song always reminded me of our favorite theatrical trickster, Malachi.  Were his intentions really bad, or his execution simply ill-planned?  What is it about this man that we didn't know?


During NYCC, we met Donna Rosenblum, a really awesome cosplaying librarian who also happens to be a book reviewer.  She wrote a review of Centernia, which is posted here:


Yay!  New fanart from of Kaity Cosette sent in from Linsday Cannizzaro.  Lindsay is a professional caricature artist in Orlando, Florida.  :-D

Book Two Update and Playlist Feature

Many people have been asking me about the progress on Book Two.  It's definitely moving forward at a comfortable pace.  Below is a photo of my elaborate outlining system, each column represents a chapter (or in some lengthy cases, half a chapter).  Each pink mark denotes that the chapter has been written, so definitely more pink than white at this point.  :-) As the story grows, my Centernia playlist grows, topping 271 tracks.  Here's another piece from my my music collection. I hear Nico's perspective in the lyrics, especially at the end of Return to the Castle. When I first heard this song, the phrase on the the shattered ones really resonated  as the castlefolk.  Even the phrase 'his love will conquer' (obviously a religious ref), could refer Teren's influence on the castlefolk. Trading Yesterday: Shattered Album: More than this 2006

Top Ten Influential Authors

I was the type of kid who would go to the school library every day, pick out a book, read it in a night, and be back the next day for a new book.  Throughout my formative years, I devoured a healthy diet of sci-fi and fantasy. There are certain authors I go back to, time and time again, these are top ten authors from my youth who influenced my writing. 10. Anne McCaffrey Long before How to Train your Dragon , the Dragonriders of Pern definitely dominated as the quintessential work on riding dragons.  It's no surprise McCaffrey is regarded as a grand master of science fiction.  The world is certainly at a loss from her passing. 9.  Tamora Pierce Circle of Magic Trilogy , is a series of young magic users learning to control their powers.  This series was published before Harry Potter was released in the US.  The mages in this book series have a certain elemental focus to their magic manifestations, which was definitely in the back of my mind as I developed the

Centernia Fashion: Part 2, Jewelry & Footwear

Jewelry Inhabitants of Centernia love to wear jewelry. For some, it is a talisman of good luck. For others, it is an ostentatious bit of show. For those in mourning, a simple choker may be a means to feel connected with the dead. In the land of Centernia, almost all types of jewelry are worn by both genders. Earrings are very popular, as are ear cuffs, ring bracelets and simple pendants. It is not unusual to see someone with as many as ten piercings along their earlobe. Tongue and nose piercings are not as common in Centernia, but you will see them among members of the Holy Circus and people of the northern regions. Materials Much of the jewelry common in the area of Trabalis is made from a gold variant, mined in the mountains. It is plentiful and cheap metal with relatively low toxicity. Silver jewelry is also popular. Gemstones are more rare than gold. Most jewelry worn by common folk feature polished stones, glass, painted wood, and innovative combinations of natu