Small updates

I blogged a lot for a bit there, gearing up for new projects. Then the new projects started and I didn’t have the time to write for the blog. But it’s been a bit since I said anything, so now’s a good time to spill a bunch of thoughts across the page, right?

I’ve been working on writing Spectrum Blade. It’s about 12,000 words long right now;  ideally, it’ll land somewhere around 100-120k words, so right now I can assume I’m about ten percent done. This is where I remember that writing epic fantasy has always been easiest for me. It’s fine if the word count ends up crazy high! Preferable, even. Once I get into the world building, my work tends to balloon in length. That’s great in fantasy, but has been a recurring problem when I write paranormal, as my planned 5,000-word shorts end up becoming 30,000 word novellas instead. It’s nice to sit there with an open document and not have to worry about brevity, letting my natural writing inclinations flow. Hopefully they’ll see me through to the end of the book, and give me something solid and coherent at the end.

Right now I feel like I’m not progressing fast enough; the book starts off pretty strong, but the action will dwindle to give way to adventure and world building pretty soon. I miss the pace I had last year, where I wrote four books, but I’m trying to spare my sanity and my health while still recovering from the trials I put myself through making those four books happen. For the first time in a long time, I’ve stopped writing down my word counts. I’ll start again in January (which I’ll talk about my plans for some time in December) but for now, I’m just writing as I can. There’s a lot going on in my personal life right now, so pushing isn’t going to help.

One of the reasons I haven’t been pushing is because I’ve been sick for close to 3 weeks now. I’ve put a lot of things on hold–my doll projects and writing especially. Writing because it’s mentally taxing, and dolls because so many of the materials I use are toxic and if I’m already having a lot of respiratory distress, I don’t need to be handling them or the cleanup, regardless of what protective measures I take. I never use my sealants without proper respiratory protection, for example, but even with a mask, the aerosols mean having paint residue on clothing and things, and that shouldn’t be floating about while I’m ill.

So instead of customizing dolls, I decided to go a different direction entirely, breaking out some neglected acrylics in the bottom drawer of my desk and trying landscape painting for the first time.

I’ve done digital landscapes, sure. But I never did landscape paintings traditionally, and I didn’t use acrylics much either. I used them for a couple things in art school, but that was it. The only things we were allowed to paint were Georgia O’Keeffe flowers over and over again, practicing quickly with acrylics and then doing the proper painting in oils. I love oil paints, but they’re expensive and I don’t have many color options, nor do I have the means to clean up anything but the water soluble variety. So this was new, low-demand and low-stress, as well as healthy experimentation for the artistic soul.

I’ve always loved the idea of having artwork to illustrate my books; it’s part of why I started drawing in the first place. And while I’m not an incredibly skilled artist, I felt like my first try was okay. I watched a lot of videos from Bob Ross before venturing into it, and I appreciated his happy accidents mantra, especially when I feel like most of my decisions regarding my work have been mistakes.

Autumn - painting by Beth Alvarez

I have a lot of other thoughts about that–my writing, my career, the things I’m doing now. How being a full-time author hasn’t gone so well thus far and how I might not get to do it for long anyway. I have some more art I’m working on to go with stories, but I like to envision the above as a glimpse into another world. I guess it has to be, since nothing is referenced from life.

So! In short: Spectrum Blade, being written.
Scenes from books being painted.
For now, probably not a lot of visible updates happening. Unless you want to see me share more concept art for the series, in which case please do let me know.
It’s progress, at least.

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