Outlander Leander Vol.2.5 – Chapter 2

Beneath the Curtains

Part 1 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8
I browsed the selection of hair sticks at the senior consignment shop. All of the goods in the store were produced by retirees who took up a craft as a hobby. Buying the goods helped the elderly, and Dad taught me that it was good to help them supplement their savings now that people lived a long time.
At some point the senior consignment shops built a reputation for being high-end stores. The products varied in quality, but because they were hobbyists they were mostly handmade with a lot of time and care spent on them.
That meant prices were high, too. More than I’d normally pay for a hair stick.
I bit my lip and inspected them, trying to decide if I should go with one that was the same color or the same style. One was a puff of a flower, round and fluffy, but it was purple. Another had the same vibrant yellows and oranges but had longer, pointier petals.
I settled on getting yellow with tiny rubies in the middle of the flower. I questioned my choice as soon as I picked it up, but I had to pick something or I’d be there all day.
So I bought it and made my way to the theater.
A guard waved me in at the front and I strolled through the empty lobby. I heard chatter from the stage so I went through the door that led to the seats. Ellora and Seolian took center stage with a director on the floor in front of them. I only knew Seolian as a popular comedian. Other actors and dancers were hanging out in the curtains.
“You wouldn’t understand. Love is painful.” Ellora turned away from Seolian and wrapped her arms around herself, her expression pained.
“I wouldn’t have a clue.” Seolian held a hand to her chest and tilted her head towards the seats, giving the invisible audience a knowing look.
“Stop!” the director yelled. “Do it again but bigger, Seolian. Your heart hurts.”
“Bigger?” she repeated, cocking an eyebrow, hands on her hips. The director gestured widely with her hands, encouraging her.
Ellora stretched and repeated her actions.
“I wouldn’t have a clue.” Seolian grabbed her chest and fell over.
Ellora paused in shock before cracking up.
“Not that big,” the director said.
Seolian rolled her head to the side and opened one eye. “Too much?”
I spotted Valli in the curtains and jogged up to the stage, climbing up the side. I received some glances before being recognized.
“Leander, what are you doing here?” Valli asked. Today a pair of small blue flowers were clipped to either side of his head.
I hesitated. A lot of people were around and I wasn’t sure if I had picked well. Digging the hair stick out of my jacket, I held it out. “I got this for you.”
“Oh!” He threw his hands up over his mouth before gently plucking the stick from my hands. “Thank you! That’s so sweet.”
At least it had been worth the money. We waded through the curtains and sat down. I held the stick for him when he went to practice with the other dancers. After they were done the performers wandered backstage. I joined Valli on the side of the stage. Ellora stayed back with us, rubbing her shoulder.
“I don’t usually get to see the rehearsals,” I said.
“It gets old doing the same scenes over and over,” Ellora said, “but at least we don’t have to rehearse that much right now. This play is pretty straightforward. Not that many tricks.”
“The dance routines are more traditional, too,” Valli added.
“What’s the hardest thing you guys have to do?”
“I think it’s when we have to hold an unusual position for a long time. Like when we played ghosts and walked in a crouched position with our legs far apart,” Valli said.
“I’d say it’s when I have to run to the back while the conveyor belt is going. Having something move under you while you’re running can throw you off balance.”
From the middle of the stage there was a straight section that shot all the way to the back of the room, through the audience seating.
“You mean down that?”
“Yeah. And crawling through the tunnel back to the stage can be irritating, too. It doesn’t get cleaned down there too often.”
“I never need to go down there,” Valli said.
“Consider yourself lucky. It’s cramped.”
“How big is it?” I asked, starting down the walkway in the middle.
“There’s an opening to it right here.” Ellora stopped me. Like the conveyor belt, the trap door blended perfectly with the ground. I’d have never known if she didn’t tell me.
She knelt down by it while I started to walk back. She pried it open with her fingers, revealing an opening about two feet wide. Before I made it back to her she screamed and tumbled backwards. I froze. Valli jumped in place. I’d never heard her react like that before.
When Valli stepped forward she threw up an arm to keep him away. What did she see? Curiosity compelled me to go forward while unease held me back. Ellora was not one to scream lightly.
“What is it?” I asked.
“Call the police,” she stammered. “There’s a body in there!”
Chaos struck. Valli ran out the door. Ellora stayed near the opening, still on her butt. I hesitated to approach. There was a draw to see what she was talking about, but I didn’t want to see something that would haunt me. She had to be wrong. How could there be a body?
The next few hours blurred together. The theater was overrun with police interrogating people. I ended up in the back of the theater with everyone else. My interrogation was short since I didn’t even know the victim. People were separated and questioned alone, but it didn’t look like they found a suspect.
Listening to what was going on, I determined that the victim had been one of the guards.
They recorded the lobby and the back areas to make a virtual model of the scene. Everyone was asked to leave all items as they were until they finished. The only areas they didn’t bother with were the basement, tech room and living quarters.
It felt like a dream.
It was late afternoon by the time people were allowed to leave. Some of the guards went with the police for further questioning. The stage was roped off. They were going to be allowed to continue using the stage but they couldn’t use the trap door.
I rejoined Valli after the police left. The people who stayed formed little groups and spoke in hushed voices amongst themselves. Ellora wasn’t anywhere to be seen.
“Did you hear anything about what happened?” I asked him.
“Not much. I don’t think they want to let the details out yet.”
“It looks like they didn’t make a recording of every place in here.”
“Well, the guards never go in the tech room or the basement, and she didn’t live on location, so there wasn’t any reason for her to be in any of those places. It looked like they were spending a lot of time on the left side of the stage, too. Maybe they found something there.”
Stage left was close to the kitchen area.
“Did you know her?”
“I can’t say I knew her well… The guards are almost always in the front or in the lobby. They only patrol through the back once in awhile, so I don’t see most of them much besides Aliseam.”
“Aliseam? Wasn’t she…” I trailed off. The name sounded familiar.
“She lives on site, so you probably met her yesterday.”
That placed her. When I knocked on the doors I had a brief introduction to everyone who lived there.
I looked around the room. “Hey, where did Ellora go, anyway?”
“Maybe she went back to her room?”
“During all this?”
He glanced away, ears lowered. “Maybe we should check on her. To make sure she’s okay.”
I nodded. We headed to her room.
The pile of papers was messily stacked on the desk. It was about a foot high. No wonder it had fallen. She was sorting through them with a look of irritation etched on her face.
“Are you all right over here?” Valli asked when he walked inside.
Her expression softened for him. She nudged a metal rod leaning on the desk next to her. “If anyone tries to take me by surprise I’ll be ready for them.”
I knew well from experience that she wouldn’t hesitate to swing.
“Okay. I’m going to be in my room with Leander.”
The afternoon was surreal. We talked about the murder, and when we switched subjects it came with a sensation of guilt. How could we chat away when someone had just been killed? But I didn’t want to scare Valli or obsess over something we didn’t have any answers for.
I finished a piece of bread he’d given me and tossed the wrapper in his trash bin. When my eyes locked on it a shudder ran down my back. The filthy hair stick was in there. Yesterday I wasn’t sure what it was covered in but now I had a guess.
“Valli.” I nearly reached in the bin but stopped myself. “We should call the police. We found your hair stick on the stage yesterday.”
He seemed to shrink when I mentioned it. “You think it’s connected?”
“It was covered in something, remember?”
Silence fell on us. I didn’t want to say what I thought it was covered in.
We called the police and explained what happened. They came to Valli’s room and took pictures of the trash bin before collecting it. We took them over to where we found it on the stage and told them everything we could. After another strenuous hour they were leaving with the evidence.
On the way back to Valli’s room he stopped in front of his door. His face paled. I knitted my brows as he clenched his hand and brought it in front of his mouth.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I can’t believe a murderer was lurking in our hallway,” he answered. His eyes widened and he placed his hands on his cheeks. His pitch rose, “And they broke into my room.”
Swiveling to face him, I placed my hands on his shoulders. “It’s okay; I’m here. You’re safe. The police have… they have the murder weapon now. They can get fingerprints off of it.”
“What if they’re still around tonight?” He stared at me, his body stiff.
“Don’t worry.” I paused. Not wanting to sound pushy, I offered awkwardly, “I could stay here tonight.”
He turned his eyes up at me. Even though he was still a hair taller than I was, he was curling up, holding himself. “You don’t have to do that. I don’t want to put you out.”
“It’s not putting me out. I’d feel better if I knew you were okay.”
He smiled softly at me. I was glad I could give him some comfort.
“I’ll just have to get some stuff from home and let Dad know I’m staying the night here.”
He took in a deep breath and straightened up, calming.
“All right. When do you want to do that?”
“I can go right now.” I took his hand and led him to the back of the theater. “I’ll be back in awhile. Make sure you stay with everyone.” He nodded. As long as he was with a group of people I wasn’t worried about anything happening to him.
I went home and grabbed some clothes, then plopped down in front of the v-phone. I had a newer one that Dad got me for my birthday but I didn’t need to hold our home v-phone.
Dad popped up on the video.
“Leander,” he greeted me with a smile.
“Hi, Dad. I just wanted to let you know I was going to spend the night at the theater.”
“Oh?” he hummed curiously.
“Yeah.” My expression fell. “One of the guards was found dead today.”
“Oh?” His tone dropped. He placed an arm on the desk in front of him and leaned forward. “What happened?”
“We’re not sure yet, but I’m going to go stay with Valli so he’s not alone.”
He stayed serious, but there was a brief hint of a smile before it vanished. “Make sure you lock the door. And don’t walk around alone.”
I nodded. “I will.”
“If anything happens call the police.”
I nodded.
“And, if something is wrong, you know how to get a hold of Ryki. Keep your phone on you.”
I nodded again. I didn’t want to bother Rykiel if I didn’t have to. “I will.” I placed a hand on the table, ready to get up.
“And don’t forget to take your toothbrush.”
I let out an exasperated sigh. “I won’t.”
“I love you. Stay safe.”
“I love you, too.”
I shoved everything in my bag – adding a toothbrush and some toothpaste – and went back to the theater.
Valli was still in the back with a small group of people. The crowd had dwindled down to about two dozen. I walked over to him with my bag slung over my shoulder. He spotted me before I reached him and broke away from his group to join me.
“Do you want to head back to my room?” he asked.
“Sure, I could set my stuff down there.”
Valli and I ate with a couple of the other residents then took turns using the shower and getting ready for bed. He had a lengthy nightgown that was mostly white with hints of blue. I threw on a long shirt and pants.
When I came out of the shower his hair was loose and hanging over his shoulders without anything in it. I sat on the edge of the bed behind him.
“You don’t have any flowers in your hair. I’ve practically seen you naked,” I teased.
He giggled, dismissively waving at me with a hand.
We played cards until nature turned the lights off. I checked to make sure his door was locked before we curled up in bed. I’d only slept in the same bed as my dad before, and it had been a long time, so this was different. Valli slept on the left side, farther from the door, nestled under the covers. He was curled up facing me.
I lied on my side facing the door. I melted into the soft, warm sheets. Soon my consciousness faded.

Part 1 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8

Outlander Leander Vol.2.5 – Chapter 1

Welcome to “Oh! Leander”, a website for the “Outlander Leander” series. From November 3 to November 27 I’ll be posting the mystery novella, “Beneath the Curtains: Outlander Leander Vol.2.5”, every Monday and Thursday. There are 2 ways to win prizes:

1. You can scroll down to the bottom of the page for your chance to win 1 of 3 $5 Amazon.com gift codes, just by linking to the page on any social media site.

2. At the end, people can post who they think “did it” for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift code.

Vol.2.5 takes place between volume 2 and volume 3 of the series, but everyone should be able to follow it fine even if they haven’t read the books. If you interested, the first and second book are both available, and the third book will be coming out soon. The first book is only $.99! With that out of the way, please enjoy the story!

Beneath the Curtains

Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8
The girl froze on the stage. Thousands of eyes were fixed on her. Music played but she was paralyzed. Mute. Even from the balcony I could sense her fear.
“I hope they don’t make her stand there for too long,” I whispered to Valli. He glanced at me with a pained smile. His expression was barely visible in the dim lights. A vibrant pink flower was pinned an inch above his ear and his bangs fell in layers around his face, much shorter than the rest of his hair.
I turned my attention back to the stage and cringed in sympathy.
“Control, have to stay in control…”
A fearless and familiar voice filled the theater. It wasn’t the girl. Ellora strode out from behind the curtains with a microphone in hand. The girl whirled to face her. The song began softly and built up slowly.
Ellora stopped next to the girl on stage as she reached the chorus. The casual jacket and pants she wore showed she hadn’t been planning on performing. With a wave of her hand, she prompted the girl to join her. A second voice weakly joined hers in the chorus. As they sang on the voice became stronger, clearer.
The chorus ended and the girl continued into the second verse. Her voice was powerful, smooth, and while she sang Ellora slunk back, disappearing behind the curtains.
After she belted out the last note everyone clapped. I put my hands together for her. It was the nicest thing I’d ever seen Ellora do.
With the last audition finished, people flooded out of the seats below us.
“Thanks for inviting me,” I told Valli while we waited for the people to clear. “It’s nice to get such good seats.”
“It’s nothing. I enjoy having someone else here with me,” he answered.
It paid to know someone in the theater. Valli invited me to many auditions and occasionally gave me free tickets for a show.
Trotting a step behind him, we went downstairs to the lobby. Hundreds of people loitered there, chatting and wandering into the gift shops. The entire theater was maroon, from the lobby to the living quarters. Woven posters from previous plays covered the walls. The massive area was littered with cushy seats and decorative plants.
“That was quite the ending,” I said.
“You don’t see that happen every day,” Valli agreed.
Around us heads started turning. I looked to see what was grabbing their attention. Ellora had entered the lobby. Her hair was parted in a way that favored her right side and hung to her mid-back. Her skin had always been a few shades darker than mine, but I had always been a bit lighter brown than average. She had a dark blue jacket on despite the fine weather, and some dark pants to go with them.
People migrated her way but she barreled through them straight over to us and stopped, folding her arms with eyes on Valli.
“Are you heading back inside?” she asked.
“Sure, in a minute,” he answered.
“I’m surprised you went out on stage like that. I’ve never seen you do that before,” I said.
“I saw her practicing in the back so I knew she had talent,” she stated, huffing. “Not like that third guy. That was painful to watch. I couldn’t wait for them to get him off the stage.”
“Think she’ll be accepted?” I asked.
Her response was so sharp it startled me.
“We can’t have people freezing up on stage. Maybe if she gets some experience and tries again next year,” she explained. More people took notice of Ellora and she pointed towards the door that led to the back. A large guard in pink stood next to it.
“I’m going to head back in before things get chaotic.”
Valli nodded and she left.
“Shall we head in, too?” he asked me.
After knowing Valli for a few months I didn’t feel awkward at the theater anymore. I followed him into the back area, already knowing that he was heading to the living quarters. A hallway attached the two areas together in the back.
The living quarters was same the length as the theater but wasn’t nearly as wide. It was a hallway with rooms and recreational areas. Valli’s room was the second one from the end, on the right. The same carpeting that cover the theater floor extended all the way through the halls, but they decorated their rooms however they wanted.
“Actually, I had a favor I wanted to ask of you,” he began hesitantly.
“Oh?” I perked up my ears.
“You find things, right? I was wondering if you could help me find my hair stick?” He fidgeted with his fingers.
I looked for relics or historical artifacts, but looking at his shining eyes and tentative expression, I couldn’t help but smile. “Sure, I’ll help. Where did you last leave it?”
He clasped his hands together and brightened. “I took it off before the show last night and left it on my desk, but it was gone when I came back.”
The carpet in front of his room squished under my feet with a wet sound. I stumbled back.
“Sorry, someone spilled some juice there last night and I had to use one of those cleaners to get it out.”
“Ah, I see,” I answered. We walked around the wet spot and into the bedroom.
His room was tidy with light blue décor. The furniture was all made of a matching light wood, and his bed was plush and oversized for one man. Doors led to his personal washroom and bathroom on the same side. The room was large. Even with a desk, dressers and the bed there was plenty of space left.
I glanced down at the desk sitting next to the entrance. “So you left it here?”
“Yes, right before the show.”
“What did it look like?”
He held up his hands to show its size. “The pin was about seven inches long and had an orange and yellow flower on the end, with a couple tiny rubies inside.”
I knelt down by the desk and checked behind it. Nothing. I pulled myself back up.
“Did you check your washroom? Maybe you moved it at some point and forgot.”
“I looked all over but I haven’t found it anywhere.”
Flipping up the skirt of the bed, I peeked under. Clear. Valli kept his hands folded while he watched.
“Could someone have borrowed it?”
“I don’t think anyone would have taken it without asking first.”
Slumping down on the edge of the bed, I held my chin and mulled it over.
“How much was it worth?”
“About fifty shills, I suppose.”
“And nothing else is missing?”
“I haven’t noticed anything.”
It was a decent amount for a hair stick but not enough to risk a criminal record, especially if they didn’t take anything else.
“I guess the best thing to do would be to ask if anyone else knows anything, then. I’ll go see what I can find out.”
First, Ellora. It was possible she… no, she actually liked Valli. She wouldn’t steal from him. Me, maybe, but not him.
I went to the next room and knocked on her door. She opened it, a look of irritation plastered on her face. Papers were scattered all over the floor. Some had been piled together but the pages weren’t lined up with each other.
“What?” she spat.
“Did something happen in here?” I asked, looking past her.
“A pile of my scripts fell off my desk.” She sighed, exasperated.
“That’s a lot of papers.”
“I have a lot of scripts. What do you want?”
“Valli can’t find one of his hair sticks. Have you seen it anywhere?”
“Which one is it?”
“He said it was orange and yellow.”
“I think he was wearing that the other day.”
“Yeah, he took it off before the show and it was gone from his desk after the show. Was there anyone back here during the show?”
She folded her arms and leaned on the door frame, looking to the side with furrowed brows.
“No one should have been…”
“Any ideas?”
“If he left his door open maybe someone took it because they had the opportunity.”
Unlike Valli, I could depend on Ellora to be suspicious of other people.
“Is there anyone living here who might have done it?”
“Hmm… I doubt anyone here would take it. Everyone knows Valli wears flowers. It would be obvious they stole it if anyone saw it.”
“If it was taken during the show would anyone else have been able to come back here?”
“Sure. They wouldn’t have a reason to, but it’s pretty chaotic during a performance. Someone could have snuck over here.”
I paused to think it over. “But then, Valli’s room is pretty far from the hallway connecting it to the theater. That’s a pretty long way to walk just to take a hair stick.”
“We make pretty good money, but there’s also a lot of staff here who don’t earn that much. Maybe one of them thought they’d find expensive stuff to steal.”
She had the mind of a thief.
“You’re right. I’ll see if anyone else is missing anything. Speaking of which, are you?”
“I haven’t noticed anything.”
“All right. I’ll check with everyone else, then.”
It was better than asking everyone if they’d stolen the hair stick. I turned to the room on the opposite side of the hallway and knocked. Another one of the dancers opened the door.
“Hi, something of Valli’s was taken off his desk and I’m checking to see if anyone else is missing anything…”
I went down the hall asking everyone if anything was missing or they knew anything. There were nine rooms on each side of the hall, making eighteen total. No one else had anything taken or knew about his hair stick.
When I went back to Valli’s room I held onto his door frame, leaning slightly inside of his room. “No one else seems to know anything. Is it possible you left it in one of the dressing rooms and forgot?”
“I remember leaving it on my desk like I always do, but I guess it’s possible.”
“It makes the most sense to me. Let’s check to make sure.”
The theater had two large dressing rooms. We went into the closer – and larger – one first. Mirrors with lights over them covered the walls on both sides. It had sinks built in and accessories sitting all over the counters. Dozens of seats were scattered about. A pair of racks full of costumes still sat in the middle of the room.
We searched the counters for his hair piece. Thin layers of powder dusted the countertops randomly. Red and black powder rubbed off onto my hand when I touched them. I peeked under the counters and in the sinks, and while I found many knick-knacks that had been left behind I didn’t see his stick. With no sign of it, we moved on to the second dressing room. It wasn’t as gargantuan as the first but I could still imagine dozens of people running around in it.
When I reached the last section of counter we still hadn’t found it.
“Doesn’t look like it’s in here.” I faced him as he finished searching the other side of the room.
He folded his hands and his gaze dropped to the ground. My ears sagged. I hated to disappoint him.
I forced a smile. “I guess we could check around the theater. It’s possible someone dropped it?”
We began scouring the rest of the theater and I got a closer look at everything that existed behind the scenes. There were lots of little rooms I’d never been in, even showers.
After looking through numerous rooms I opened one of the doors to the stage and pushed through the curtains. The stage was massive, with layers upon layers of drapes drawn to the sides. A ladder was set up on the other side of the stage but no one was on it. The audience seating seemed to flow forever. A section of the stage divided the seats and stretched all the way to the back.
The lights flashed on and flooded the room. Between each sheet a stream of light poured through. I jumped behind the curtains and stood still. Soft footsteps came through the door.
When I saw Valli’s feet on the other side of the curtain I grabbed him. He jumped, crying out and tensing up.
I roared and shook him. He planted his feet apart to keep his balance and struggled to free his arms.
After a moment I let go and peeked around the curtain. He laughed, steadying himself. I snapped the curtain back in place and fled. Shielding my head with an arm, I shoved the thick drapes aside. Valli’s soft steps followed behind me.
Hopping out of them onto the stage, I checked behind me. He was working his way out of drapery. I dove back in and raced through. When I reached the wall he popped out from behind the other side of the curtain. Laughing, I leaned on the wall, pausing to catch my breath. He panted, a hand covering his mouth.
A puffball on the ground caught my eye. It was wedged against the wall. I inched closer passed Valli and bent over to get a better look. The ball was made of yellow and golden petals, forming a fluffy circular flower. The stick attached to it was resting in a crevice in the wooden floor.
I squatted down in front of it. “Hey, I think I found your stick.”
“You did?”
The stick part was a golden brown at the top, but a dingy brown glop covered the bottom. Some sort of crusty gunk. As Valli bent over next to me I held a hand up to stop him.
“There’s something on it. Do you have something to pick it up with?”
“I can get something.”
He scuttled out the door and came back a couple minutes later with a plastic bag. Covering my hand with it, I lifted it up for a better look.
“Yeah, there’s definitely something all over the stick. It looks like a bit is on the edge of the flower, too.”
I straightened up and held it so he could see. His figure drooped and he pouted. Too bad I didn’t find it in better condition.
“Maybe it can be washed off?” I suggested, though I doubted he would want to put something dirty like this in his hair again.
“It’s all right. I guess we should just throw it out.”
We took it back to his room, where I tossed it in his trash bin and went about the day. The mystery of where his hair stick had gone was solved.
Still, how did it get there and why was it dirty?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The first seven parts of the story are now up! Scroll to the top or the bottom for links to all the other parts.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you’re interested in seeing more of the series, please visit the store for links where you can purchase it.

Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8

Art – Putting together art for the book 2

Some more examples of sketches that Lylith made for Coronation Necklace.

Probably one of the most complicated pictures thus far, we discussed how to do the musical tree in Wilten Crags quite a bit.

These were different ideas for dealing with the chimes.
The first started off far too mechanical.
Tree sketch 1

The second toned down how mechanical the tree looked, but I was looking for something similar to a willow tree.
Tree sketch 2

In the end we went with a less detailed and more distant look, with the tree looking fairly normal save for the coloring. It made more sense than attempting to draw thousands of chimes, which would take forever.
I love the overall feel of the finished product even if I would still make some adjustments. It has the gloomy feel of Wilten Crags and is an excellent opening picture for the story.

Art – Putting together art for the book

Some people might be wondering how the artwork for the series is decided on, and how many sketches are made before it’s finished.
I work with Lylith, giving her the details and telling her things to change when going through the artwork. Is all the artwork exactly how I pictured it in my head? Of course not. When adding artwork to a book it’s necessary to realize that the artist’s artistic vision is going to be part of it.

I told her that I wanted Axe and General Glaive on the upper portion of the cover, with Leander being “loomed over” somehow (of course I gave more details than that, but that’s a brief summary).
At that point she came up with a way to try and get the look I was going for.
Here are some examples sketches we went over for the cover of “Coronation Necklace”.
Lylith's Cover Sketch

As you can see, that’s not how it looked when finished. A wall was added behind Leander, and the actual cover has him more at an angle rather than straight forward.
Lylith - Leander CN Cover Sketch

Some adjustments were made to figure out how Leander should be positioned.
One of the things Lylith mentioned is that in the final product Leander is positioned in a way that is more typical for a female character – something that worked for both of us.

The same happened with the back cover. For the picture of Ellora accompanying the letter, I asked for her to look irritated, and Lylith made some sketches.
Lylith - Back Cover

Again, adjustments were made. I went with the first sketch, but asked her to make Ellora look slightly less angry.

Working with an artist on a book communication is important, and knowing when to let go is important, too. It’s no longer just your work but partially their work, too. I’m fortunate to have Lylith to work with, because she’s a great person to talk to, a hard worker and is extremely patient, and there are plenty of things that have ended up in the artwork for the book that I never had planned.

One example of this is the swirlies that ended up on the army hats.
If you read the text, there’s never any mention of there being red swirls on their hats. This was completely artistic license, and it’s this type of thing where the art is based on the book, and the book can come around to be based on the art (by adding the swirls as canon later on).

That has been my experience working with an illustrator on the book. I’m blessed to have such a great artist to work with, and being a fan of artwork in books I hope I see more authors and artists working together in the future.


Having completed the files for “Coronation Necklace”, this entry is to discuss what it was like working on this book.

The story changed a lot from what I initially wrote. “Flute of the Wind Queen” did as well, for that matter (“Flute of the Wind Queen” was originally only 9 chapters long).

For the first book I had two editors (with one listed in the credits). I was nervous about only having one editor for the second book.
The editing for the first one took eight or so months. The editing on the second was closer to six weeks. It was a big difference.
The artwork went a little differently as well. Because of the editing change I wasn’t sure what to expect, and held off on getting the artwork done until I knew what changes were going to be made.

I’m finding that I’m just as anxious about how well this book will be received as I was the first book, if not moreso. My editor and I ran into technical problems with this book. I had upgraded from an older Microsoft Word to 2007. When I sent her my files spaces would randomly disappear from the document. The same thing happened when she sent me back the file.
We were using two different versions of MS Word and they apparently didn’t like each other. This happened a few times before we figured out a way to fix it. I went through the book each time to try and make sure that it was okay, but with less editing and the technical problems I’m still afraid I might have missed something somewhere.

I’ve devoted much time and attention to “Coronation Necklace”, though. It is finished, and it’s time for me to focus on “The General’s Bust”.

How in-depth should a fictional world be?

Some authors have a vague world with little explanation for how that world came to be or why, while others will know minute details about their fictional worlds but never have a reason to bring them up.

There’s pros and cons to both. Readers might enjoy filling in the blanks when trying to figure out why a culture in a book works the way it does. This can be fun when if the author drops hints that lead to a logical conclusion (Ex. Only 10% of the population is female, therefore women are highly valued and few men with have an opportunity to be with a woman.) On the other hand it can be frustrating when it doesn’t make sense (Ex. Only 10% of the population is female, but women have no value and are readily killed off.) In the second scenario it’s hard to figure out how people have managed to survive and without an explanation from the author it looks poorly thought out.

Then there’s the detailed worlds. Knowing a world inside and out can give the author a great opportunity to flesh out a full story. “Fifty years ago A happened which led to B which led to C…” Writers can make it clear that they’re not making up new facts as they go along; their world has a full history and rich cultures. The con being that it can be easy for an overzealous author to infodump everything they know. Perhaps they know that a toilet on their world flushes by pulling a lever on the floor, and they shoehorn it into the story, leaving the reader wondering why they just read five paragraphs about how a toilet works. This detail can be fun; maybe a character trips over the lever and falls in the toilet. But if it’s written into the story for no reason it can create needless filler that will bore readers.

I’m the second type of author and created this blog to jot down information that wouldn’t fit into the books. What about you? Which way do you write? As a reader which do you prefer? What are the best and worst instances you’ve seen for both?