Monday, December 12, 2011

Art - Autumn Sale

First of all... hurray for VGA awards! My Portal 2 team won best PC game and best multi-player, among other things! Congrats to the team and all the other teams that won different categories.

In other news, here's some art I did for the Steam Autumn Sale that ran during Thanksgiving weekend:







Leaves, rain, wind... brr, I can't wait for spring...



--Realm

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

News Week - 11/30/11

Autumn has brought us a ton of great, new book releases! Many of my writer friends got their new novel out in the past few months and I'm excited to tell you about them. I'm especially excited because these writers are super kind, hardworking, inspiring, talented, and full of will power and determination.



Shelli Johannes-Well's Untraceable:




Shelli Johannes-Wells has been offering marketing advice on her awesome blog for a long time. I really love this recent blog post she wrote on indie publishing--you must check it out. Back in 2009, she also interviewed me. Shelli has always been so helpful to the writing community and I'm happy to see Untraceable's launch success! Her YA thriller sounds like a great concept.

Untraceable blurb:

Grace has lived in the Smokies all her life, patrolling with her forest ranger father who taught her about wildlife, tracking, and wilderness survival. When her dad goes missing on a routine patrol, Grace refuses to believe he’s dead and fights the town authorities, tribal officials, and nature to find him. One day, while out tracking clues, Grace is rescued from danger by Mo, a hot guy with an intoxicating accent and a secret. As her feelings between him and her ex-boyfriend get muddled, Grace travels deep into the wilderness to escape and find her father. Along the way, Grace learns terrible secrets that sever relationships and lives. Soon she’s enmeshed in a web of conspiracy, deception, and murder. And it’s going to take a lot more than a compass and a motorcycle (named Lucifer) for this kick-butting heroine to save everything she loves.



Gretchen McNeil's Possess:



Gretchen McNeil has also been a giant supporter of writers. She is often busily working on YaRebels. And she's a singer, a hard worker, and always there to cheer writers on. Big glass of champagne to her success! Her debut Possess is out! If you like horror and YA, this is for you.

Possess blurb:

Fifteen-year-old Bridget Liu just wants to be left alone: by her over-protective mom, by Matt Quinn, the cute son of a local police sergeant, and by the eerie voices she can suddenly and inexplicably hear. Unfortunately for Bridget, the voices are demons—and Bridget possesses the rare ability to banish them back to whatever hell they came from. Literally.

Terrified to tell her friends or family about this new power, Bridget confides in San Francisco’s senior exorcist, Monsignor Renault. The monsignor enlists her help in increasingly dangerous cases of demonic possession, but just as she is starting to come to terms with her freakish new role, Bridget receives a startling message from one of the demons. And when one of her oldest friends is killed, Bridget realizes she’s in deeper than she ever thought possible. Now she must unlock the secret to the demons’ plan before someone else close to her winds up dead—or worse, the human vessel for a demon king.


Linda Benson's The Girl Who Remembered Horses:



Linda Benson is a kindred spirit who loves nature. She reached out to me when I was down and has always been so encouraging. It warms my heart to see her book out. Giant congrats to Linda! Read the blurb for The Girl Who Remembered Horses--sounds beautiful.

The Girl Who Remembered Horses blurb:

Several generations into the future, Sahara travels with her clan in a barren environment where recyclables are bartered for sustenance, and few remember horses or their connection to humans. But Sahara has recurring visions of riding astride on magnificent animals that run like the wind.

With the help of Evan, a young herder from the Gardener's Camp, Sahara discovers a crumbling book containing pictures of humans riding horses and learns her visions are real. Confronting a group of hunters led by hot-headed Dojo, Sahara rescues a wounded horse, but the animal escapes before it can be tamed.

Sahara is labeled a foolish dreamer and almost gives up her quest. Following horse tracks into a remote ravine, she finds wild dogs attacking a dying mare, and must drive them off in order to save the foal. Now she must attempt to raise the young animal, finally convince her clan of the ancient bond between horses and humans, and learn the secret of her true identity.



Karen Duvall's Knight's Curse:



Karen Duvall came out with Knight's Curse, an urban fantasy. (Did you know she's also a graphic designer?) She is another author who worked very hard and has always been there for others. This is so well-deserved. Thank you for all the support, Karen.

Knight's Curse blurb:

A skilled knife fighter since the age of nine, Chalice knows what it's like to live life on the edge—precariously balanced between the dark and the light. But the time has come to choose. The evil sorcerer who kidnapped her over a decade ago requires her superhuman senses to steal a precious magical artifact…or she must suffer the consequences.

Desperate to break the curse that enslaves her, Chalice agrees. But it is only with the help of Aydin—her noble warrior-protector—that she will risk venturing beyond the veil to discover the origins of her power. Only for him will she dare to fully embrace her awesome talents. For a deadly duel is at hand, and Chalice alone will have to decide between freedom…and the love of her life.


Lisa Albert's Mercy Lily:


Lisa Albert's contemporary YA--Mercy Lily! Lisa is warm-hearted and always cheering us writers on. Love the clear concept of Mercy Lily and how it shows through in the cover art. Thank you for all your support, Lisa! Many cheers to Mercy Lily.

Mercy Lily blurb:

I take the bees outside, unscrew the lid of the bee jar, and listen to their angry buzzing.
"I hate you," I whisper.


Lily's mother has slowly been losing herself to multiple sclerosis. After traditional treatment fails, she uses bee sting therapy, administered by Lily, to alleviate her pain. Lily is trained as a veterinary assistant, so she can easily handle the treatments. What she can't handle is what happens when the bee sting therapy fails and it becomes clear that her mom wants to die.

One beautiful spring day, Lily's mother asks her for the most impossible thing of all—mercy. While navigating first love, friendship, and other normal worries faced by high school sophomores, Lily also has to choose: help her mom go, or cling to her fading life for all it's worth.


I hope you guys picked some of these new books up for your winter vacation reads!


________________


In other news, did you guys see The Simpson's YA episode? (It's on Hulu now!)



--Realm

Monday, October 31, 2011

News Week - 10/31/11

Happy Halloween! Check out this pumpkin I carved (it's supposed to be a beastly cat face):

I made borsht (vampire soup), pumpkin pie from the carved pumpkin, and roasted pumpkin seeds.

We just got back from Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Joe and I stayed at my Grandpa's ancient Victorian house near Brown University. We drove over to Massachusetts around the Berkshires for our friend's lovely, autumn wedding. The red and gold leaves were beautiful.

In other news, while I'm on submission, I completed a first draft of a new novel! I am totally excited about this one and am revising it now. A month and a half is the fastest I've ever written.

I've got a couple art posts coming up, so stay tuned!


--Realm

Monday, October 10, 2011

Trip - Aurora Borealis in Fairbanks, Alaska

Fall is here! Joe and I just got back from Fairbanks, Alaska. We went on a quest to see the northern lights. Since there's been a lot of solar storms, we thought our odds were good. The first night, we only saw a foggy, white cloud which was the aurora. Then, the second night, after some snow, we saw a bright patch in the corner of the sky. We bundled up in our winter gear and went outside. The aurora spread across the sky and eventually began to dance and whip about, streaming like rays. We saw an aurora that appeared to be "galloping" toward us before it faded. Another one swirled above us. In summary, the aurora borealis rocks!!! My nerd-astronomy-loving heart is satisfied. The aurora is not as green in real life as photos, but it's still bright. I didn't expect the aurora to move so wild like it's got a mind of its own! Once we got really cold, we went back inside, but I could still watch the lights through my window as I drifted to sleep.






A walk in the boreal forest, which consists of beautiful, white elm trees and utter silence:




Our cute lodge with mountain view (Why make the pic so small, blogger?):


Walk with reindeer:





Ice bar! We got an appletini in an ice glass:



Husky ride! The dogs run fast and seem to have unending energy:


Food! The left is the aurora borealis cocktail. The middle is a giant steak--best steak ever. And on the right is a milky way martini, which was like chocolate:


We hiked Angel Rock, where there are many tors studding the mountain top:

Nice views:
I got an aurora borealis labordite necklace to remind me of my trip:


This pic isn't from the trip... it's from new year's eve! On NYE this year, we went to an aurora borealis party where the ceiling was strung up with fake auroras made out of ribbons. Little did I know I would see them this year. I guess it's a reminder to seek the unknown:


In short, Alaska was peaceful, quiet, and wonderful. The people were kind, the air and water fresh, and the food delicious. I've been on many trips, but this was one of the few times I had a really hard time leaving. I miss the stillness and making breakfast while looking out at the mountains. When the air, view, and everything is pristine and pure, it's hard not to feel healthy and good. I wish I could transport that feeling into Seattle, but our little city is quite crowded and muggy. And I have a view of the street. Oh well!


--Realm

Monday, September 26, 2011

News Week - 09/26/11

Kidlitcon happened this month. I didn't get to go, but YA author Holly Cupala did a talk on marketing there and announced a little project I worked on for her. It's the graphic novel version of the first two chapters of her next book DON'T BREATHE A WORD! I had a lot of fun drawing for her book. You can see the sneak preview here:





Also, if you're interested in Holly's handout on DIY marketing, go to her blog and email her.


For those of you in the NW, if you missed Kidlitcon, you can still go to Bookfest next week! (Tons of fab authors, panels, talks, and... it's free!) I will sadly miss it though. If you go to Bookfest and blog about it, point me to your blog, and I'd love to see how it went for everyone.


___




In other news, Seattle's short summer vanished and now, rain and autumn leaves are whipping by. We will likely not see another sunny day until April. How do you cope with the winter blues?


Joey knows I hate the cold, so he got me a locket with pictures of the grains of glass sand beach on one side, and the blue ocean of Maui on the other. (Both pictures were from our trip.) So that will help me through the winter, as well as as lots of coffee.





In other news, my book is on submission and I am drafting a new story at the same time. Whenever I draft a new story, I truly feel like I don't "choose" what I want to write, but rather, the story chooses me. I don't tell myself that I want to write an urban fantasy and start plotting, rather, I randomly become fascinated with some idea and can't help writing about it, even if I wanted to write some other story instead. Anyway, it's truly wonderful to write at least 2000 words per day and feel completely enthusiastic to do so. I never know how a story will turn out, but I remind myself having fun and writing for myself is the first most important step. What about you, authors? What makes you start drafting a story for the first time? I think for me, it is curiosity.


Have a happy start of autumn, all!




--Realm

Monday, August 29, 2011

Author Interview - KODY KEPLINGER (2nd visit)

Hello, everyone. Kody Keplinger is back on The Blog today! Last time, she was interviewed for her debut book THE DUFF. (She was published at age eighteen--wow!) She is once again published by Poppy for her new book SHUT OUT. It will be out September 5th--that's next week!

For the featured illustration, I drew the main character of SHUT OUT. Her name is Lissa and Kody says, "she's a bit of a control freak - well, okay, more than a bit. She's quite neurotic, actually, and worries all the time. But she can also be fun and goofy when she's with people she trusts."



1) What is SHUT OUT about?

SHUT OUT is a modern re-imagining of the Greek comedy "Lysistrata," a play by Aristophanes. The play is about a group of women who go on a sex strike to end a pointless war. So in SHUT OUT a group of high school girls, led by Lissa Daniels, are sick of a rivalry between the football and soccer team. The girls decide to go on a strike - withholding all physical relations - from their boyfriends - until the rivlary ends. As the strike goes on, the girls grow closer and begin to discuss their views on sexuality, boys, and relationships. Ultimately, its a lot of fun with a little bit of romance.



2) What inspired you to write the story?

My freshman year of college I had to read "Lysistrata" for a class. I LOVED it so much! I couldn't help imagining what it would be like with modern, teenage girls. Obviously, some liberties had to be taken, but I tried to stay true to the themes.



3) What a cool idea! Are you a fan of any sports? Or did you have to learn about football and soccer?

I'm so not a sports girl. I try so hard to get into them, but its just never been my thing. So when I started writing this novel, I had to have some help. I understand enough about football to write the parts I had to, but not soccer. I've always thought soccer was cool, but I never really got it. Lucky for me, a friend of mine (as well as a fellow writer), Shelby Bach, took the time to explain soccer to me. Not sure how much of the explanation stuck, but enough to work in a few soccer details!



4) What makes the football and soccer team hate each other?

When I was coming up with the idea of a rivalry that these girls would have to end, I knew it needed to be a very pointless rivalry - one that just wasn't worth fighting. And I knew that it would need to be within one school so that these girls could logically team up. The idea behind the football and soccer teams fighting was basically that they share a season - both play in the Fall. Because the soccer team was only started ten years ago, the football team back then (when Lissa's brother was in school) lost some of their funding and started having to share the weight room and locker rooms. This started some tension that morphed into an all out battle, one that never died and heats up every fall, even ten years later. So its pointless, old, stupid, and utterly annoying to all the girlfriends of these boys.



5) How are the two boys, Randy and Cash, different from each other? How does Lissa feel about each boy?

Randy and Cash are polar opposites. While Randy is the kind of guy who acts now and thinks later, Cash is a little more careful about things. Randy can be sweet, for sure, but he can also be a little abrasive - he makes his feelings on things clear. Cash, on the other hand, is more sensitive to how people feel and keeps his thoughts to himself, to a fault at times because people can misunderstand him. The boys do share one thing in common - they are both gorgeous! As for Lissa, at the start of the book she is completely in love with Randy, just not completely comfortable around him (she's a bit of a control freak and its hard for her to relax around anyone). And while she is drawn to Cash and feels at ease around him, she also has an old grudge against him because of how he hurt her in the past. So she's conflicted, to say the least.



Thanks for telling us about your latest book, Kody! Sounds like you wrote another fun, upbeat teen story with plenty of romance and comedy! Readers, go check it out here.

Cheers!


--Realm

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

News Week - 08/22/11

First news... I interviewed YA author Kody Keplinger for her upcoming book, SHUT OUT. The interview will be up next Monday, so stay tuned!

Also, I just got done with my book revisions and am sending it to my agent today. Hurray!


Japanese Lantern Festival

In memory of the victims of Hiroshima and all others victims of violence and war, every year, hundreds of people float lanterns across Green Lake in Seattle.

There was a musician playing a wooden flute as the lanterns floated. It was a peaceful event and good to see so many different people coming together for the festival. People wrote kanji words representing peace and friendship on the lanterns before floating 'em off.







Olympic Peninsula and Forks

Joey's fifteen year old niece, Madison, was visiting and she likes Twilight, so we decided to take her to the peninsula. I've lived in Washington for over ten years but never been, so I was excited about our summer trip. We took the ferry to Bainbridge Island and drove over to Forks. I was hoping it'd at least be a creepy town... but it was really small and bland. There wasn't much to see except for a ton of Twilight advertisement plastered all over town. We went to a diner for lunch and the place was decorated with game animal heads. Outside, there were a lot of logger trucks.

We went to the rainforest. It was full of my favorite kind of trees--ones draping with moss, like curtains.




(Hah! The frown on Joe's face.)


Seattle Library

I've also never been to the Seattle Library (famous for it's eccentric architecture), so we took Madison there. There's one floor that's just blood red from floor to ceiling so we took some pictures there.

We look like someone in a horror flick:




Up Monday: Kody's interview!


--Realm

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

News Week - 08/01/11

It's the last month of summer. Seattle hasn't had the sunniest summer and my vacation is over--I am back at work! I enjoy having a routine again and working on art full-time. It seems like I have more art projects than ever and I am really looking forward to seeing my book go on submission this fall.

Before I tell you about the events I've been to so far, I want to geek out for a second and tell you that I tweeted astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson a question about when the northern lights peak, and he actually answered! 2012/2013--mark your calendars. Astrophysicists are rock stars to me. They figure out the universe!


Final Fantasy Symphony

I was lucky to go to this. I got the tickets as a gift. The symphony was all the way in Vancouver, so it was a three hour drive. My boyfriend Joey does not play games and does not know anything about games, but he drove anyway. What a nice guy!


Joey and I got there early so that we could enjoy dinner. We went to a piano bar where I had delicious oyster stew and the waiter pronounced trout as "troot."



The Final Fantasy Symphony was at the Orpheum Theater. It was beautiful inside with chandeliers and gold.


Nobuo Uematsu himself was there, wearing his awesome bandana and being cheerful. I grew up playing Final Fantasy and I couldn't be more satisfied with the concert. They played videos of the game and cut scenes as they played the music. They played battle songs, chocobo theme, Celes' opera song, and all the other important theme songs. It made me very nostalgic. At the end, I was a bit sad because they didn't play One-Winged Angel...but they actually played it last as a surprise! It's the best villain symphony ever.


Yes, the symphony was well worth the road trip! You can hear some of the music on my previous post...be sure to listen to One-Winged Angel.


Carmina Burana

This song plays in every movie and commercial...it was cool to see it played in real life! If you don't know the song, listen to it on youtube and you'll instantly know it.


Casablanca

This is such a great movie. The scenes and dialogues are very deliberate. I wish movies were still like this. I saw it on the big screen while a real orchestra played the soundtrack.



Humphrey Bogart is so very, very cool.


Into Eternity

A well-shot documentary about an underground nuclear waste storage facility in Finland. Machines in tunnels...sterile, layered passages...and more shiny, creepy machines! It's all visually and conceptually interesting. Some neat ideas about how to convey to the future civilization about dangers underground via signages and other visual languages. I recommend it!




The Builders and The Butchers

Saw them at Tractor Tavern. I enjoyed the rustic music and thorny lyrics.



More updates soon! Few author interviews are pending. There's going to be many books out this fall!


--Realm