Featured Story

Flag in Flames

Space Pirate Romance -With Explosions!

Brotherhood of the Black Flag News

I guess I needed a break

I haven’t been on my computer much recently. First it was because my sister was visiting. After that, I guess my story-teller’s itch got to be too much for me, and I switched from working on covers to doing revisions to the Blood Price (Black Flag 2) storyboards, and I do that with a pencil and paper rather than stylus and pixels.

The thing with my Black Flag storyboards is that they are deliberately not good drawings. (The kids call them my scribbles). I don’t want to spend any time making them look good because there is no point — they’re just there to help me figure out how to layout the 3D art. Besides, I don’t want any inner resistance to making changes. Scribbling is a deliberate choice. But apparently after a week of scribbling there’s something in me that starts feeling… defensive. I find myself thinking “I really can draw better than this. Really. I could make this look nicer if I tried. Really.”

So I ended up doing a couple not-so-ugly sketches to reassure myself that, yes, my storyboards would be a lot less ugly if I was actually trying to make them not-ugly. ::rolls eyes::

The thing I hate: the little voice inside me that as soon as I decide to share the sketches, starts saying, “Just because they’re not as ugly as your storyboards, doesn’t mean they’re actually good.” Grrr. Shuddup, you stupid voice! I’m just sharing the silly things, I’m not trying to sell them. (And even if I was, if people didn’t think they were good enough, they wouldn’t have to buy!)

Five Years

For five years (and a couple months) I have been working on the “first draft” artwork for Brotherhood of the Black Flag, Volume One: Flag in Flames. Today I completed the last page.

I think I’m in shock. Five years. I’ve been working on this draft for five years. And it’s DONE!!! It’s done, done, done, done, DONE!!!! Yeeehaw!!!

Of course, I still have edits and betareaders comments and more edits. But I can wait to think about all that tomorrow. Today I’m going celebrate.

Bounce! Bounce!

I am totally squeeing over my last Black Flag render. But I’m not going to post any pics, because I’m past the climax and into the resolution, and everything’s a spoiler now. So, you’ll just have to take my word for how awesome it looks. And less than two chapters to go! Having the end so close is really exciting (to me, anyway).

Black Flag Update

Chapter 17 is done.

This is the chapter with the climactic fight between my two male leads. It involved me doing lots and lots of renders that were deemed not good enough, or not right, or not whatever. The one pictured above, made no sense. Which I knew when I did it, but I liked how it looked. So, instead of it going in the chapter, I’ll be adding it to the Black Flag Art Gallery, as soon as I’ve finished rewriting my website. (Sometime this year, I promise.)

And now I’m off to Marcon.

Dusty cats, or real work?

Started playing with a “document processor” called Lyx, in my free time, ended up importing and marking up The Raven and The Veil, and then while I was reading through I decided the ending wasn’t as strong as it could be, so I rewrote it. It is now 4000 words longer. Hopefully that’s a good thing.

The cover artwork for Dicing with Flames isn’t done yet. I’m having trouble with the rock textures… and since the scene I’m doing is underground, it’s almost all rock. I put a Black Flag page together today anyway.

Too many things to do!

I stopped writing the story I wasn’t supposed to be writing, and started up work on Black Flag again instead. I’ve also been working on a major overhaul of my writing website (it fits fairly nicely into the chunks of time I spend rendering Black Flag art, and I can keep working at it when I’m really too tired to be doing much that is creative). The website work somehow managed to include me teaching my website to play Crazy Eights (or more precisely a game played with the cards from one of my story worlds that closely resembles Crazy Eights/Uno) because my cat was getting dusty (I don’t actually have a cat, but when has that ever stopped me?) and it was New Year’s, which is a holiday, so I wasn’t supposed to be working anyway. The card game page won’t go live until the new site does, though, and at present that seems very far in the future, because…

My daughter has been bugging me about the sequel to Talking With Winds. She doesn’t want to read it on a computer screen, she wants a book. ‘Please’ and ‘it’s for your daughter’ and ‘you have all that free time so why can’t you get it done?’ I can get it done, just not while simultaneously working on Black Flag and a website and getting a novel finished before March. But I have been meaning to get it printed up, along with Pavane, for quite a while now, so…

At least it’s a fairly short, self contained project. I should be able to get it finished quickly, and get back to my other projects. ::crosses fingers::

Stories Without End

I cleaned up my story database a little, and while I was at it, added a couple more titles to it. Now the to-write queue is a little longer. Inserting the new Black Flag story, Voyage of the Obsidian Star, pushed my theoretical start date on Blood Brothers (currently listed as Black Flag 10) back to when I’m eighty. (There has got to be a way to speed up production on those things!) I also added a novel set in the Black Flag universe, but completely unrelated to space pirates to the queue.

After I was done I looked at the to-write queue and noticed that there are no Ialfa stories listed there anymore. Just the one I’m working on now, and that’s it. I’ve got a bunch of other Ialfa story ideas, but the one I seem to be most interested in at the moment is one I’m very reluctant to add to the list, because it feels like a multiple book story to me. Seeing Song of Asolde and Brotherhood of the Black Flag popping up with such regularity in the queue is making me somewhat reluctant to take on another epic.

The other story I’m somewhat tempted to add to the queue but haven’t yet, is a brand new shiny story that’s only three days old. I’m tempted, not because it’s so brand new and shiny, but because it’s a novel set in Verdaia, and that’s the only world I haven’t got a novel for yet, now that Black Flag has one.

Speaking of Verdaia, I want a longer name for it. Something that indicates what it’s about. The science fictional settings get “Universe” tacked on the end, and then there’s Racciman’s World, Ialfa Fantasy World, and Opera Magique Alternate Earth. Verdaia is not an “Alternate Earth” in the sense I usually think of things as alternate earths… the geography and all the cultures and history are different. But is it a “Fantasy World”? It’s got no magic. Myself, I would class it as fantasy… but then I tend to think of Science Fiction as a sub-set of Fantasy, which is, apparently, an unusual point of view. I know lots of people who say “It can’t be fantasy if it doesn’t have magic!” and whether or not I agree, the whole point of extending the name is to inform, not to confuse. So I haven’t figured out what to call it yet. :(

Even though Black Flag is on hiatus…

I have come up with some changes I am considering making to Flag in Flames (aka Black Flag 1). Given their scope I think they must have been simmering in my backbrain for a while, possibly due to the revisions I was doing to Scent of Spring? But the thing that actually triggered the realization that I could “punch up” the climax a bit, was my daughter getting happy feet over a facial expression in a graphic novel she was reading, (Calamity Jack), and squealing joyfully “He’s sooo jealous!” And I, being the obsessed person that I am, immediately thought of Silver and Blood, and wondered if there couldn’t be a moment when a reader could gleefully squeal “he’s sooo jealous!” and the next thing I knew one of the scenes coming up shortly (at least it would be shortly if I were able to be working on Black Flag at all) was rewriting itself. If I do make this change it will involve the addition of an entire new scene, and that new scene will require some earlier set up. But if it makes the story better, it’s worth it. Right?

And, since I’m a bit behind on these, last week (or maybe it was the week before) In My Head Theater was running scenes from the Black Flag story about G’s younger son. (I think he must be a third son, actually.) Mostly it was about him using a religious fesitval as an excuse to check every student in his school for tracking devices or spy bugs, but there was some other stuff too. I also was running scenes from the story I’ve been thinking of as “The Osabine Romance”, with a lot of new material showing up there, and I’ve been doing a scene from a later point in Smoke and Mirrors (the spy story from the Opera Magique historical fantasy world) than I’ve ever gotten to before.

But the one that proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that the inside of my head is a very scarey place is the complete and total rewrite of Black Flag my backbrain has come up with, after having watched a few episodes of an anime series called “Wedding Peach”. (Be warned, that show provides seriously brain warping sugar overdoses as the following plot summary proves).

The new version of Black Flag starts with ordinary first-year high schooler Bonnie Anne heading off to school. She sees a bully harassing a student from the middle school and charges to the rescue (even though the middle school boy is bigger than she is) — coming out of the encounter a little worse for wear, and very late for school. Little does Bonnie Anne know, but she is about to be visited by a phantasm from the distant future — her father, Captain Talon, who placed his infant daughter in this ordinary environment because he didn’t want her growing up in the piratical environment of the Black Flag. But his plans to only have her learn of her futuristic heritage on her eighteenth birthday, when at last she is old enough to inherit command of his pirate ship the Penzance, have been foiled by the discovery that creatures from another layer of space are threatening her world. She must use the dagger earring he is giving her to transform into her true space pirate form so that she can battle these alien invaders. Later Captain Talon admits to the other pirate captains that he’s a bit worried about his daughter taking on the aliens all by herself. Captain Blood, clearly interested in Bonnie Anne, volunteers to help her out — as does Captain Marquis. This just makes Captain Talon look even more worried, and he is vastly relieved when Brand and Hawke, from the Penzance offer their services as well. At this point everyone looks over at the last remaining captain, Captain Silver, and he too agrees to help.

Bonnie Anne now has five mystic pirate warriors that she can summon to her defense. But will she be able to master the (mysteriously skimpy and not apparently vacuum resistant) space armor that materializes out of n-space when she yells the secret key phrase in time to save her world? Will she fall prey to Marquis’ flattery, or Blood’s animal magnetism? Will she be able to uncover the traitor who schemes to destroy the Brotherhood of the Black Flag, and with it, her entire world? Tune in again for the next exciting episode of Pirate Princess of the Black Flag!

 
Copyright © Michelle Bottorff

Email mbottorff at lshelby period com