Off and Running

Off and Running

One important lesson I learned over the past decade as a wedding photographer is you cannot stop striving to get better at your craft. Pretty basic, I know, but complacency is always lurking around the corner. I would reach what I called “plateaus” with my photography. One day, out of the blue, I’d look at my work and say “wow, I am getting a little better”. Although it felt good to see progress, I had to keep pushing to build my skill set.

I have encouraged my children to continue practicing their musical instruments, but most of the time, they do it on their own. As with any form of art, there is a tremendous amount of things to learn and you have to push yourself to learn them.

Writing is no different, and I spent the last several weeks writing AND reading books on writing. In addition, I listen to books on tape (as they’re affectionately known). I’ve heard we spend up to 1/3 of our lives in our car, so why not put the time to good use? At the moment I’m listening to Time and Again by Jack Finney. I’m loving it, and find myself looking for reasons to drive so I can listen to the next chapter.

The last audiobook I listened to was On Writing, by Stephan King. If you have aspirations to write fiction, this is a must-read!

The point I want to make is, even though I am writing, I take time to ensure my writing toolkit has the essentials necessary to do it correctly. There are many things I didn’t know, but these books have also helped me determine what I am doing right. That’s important and it encourages me to continue my writing.

In my last post, I mentioned I would introduce some characters in my current book, Awakening. Here is a concept drawing of Eve, my protagonist.

First color concept illustration of Eve by Sam Manopo

For those of you who remember, yes, this book takes place in the future. And yes, that is a sword she is holding. In the mythology of The Seasons of Darkness, guns are hard to come by. As we progress through the series “the history of the world” will reveal itself. And when the final scene of the final book comes to a close, we will go back in time before the apocalypse and answer questions – and secrets – in the prequel.

Eve is the name I thought of in 2011 when I started this storytelling adventure. I cannot remember how or why I decided on it, but it’s always been, Eve. I’ve never entertained the idea of another name for her and honestly didn’t realize it until I wrote this paragraph. Eve in many ways is me, and I am her. However, Eve is her own person.

The first person Eve meets is Jack.

First color concept illustration of Jack by Sam Manopo

Jack helps Eve get out of trouble in Chapter 1. He speaks softly but carries a big stick! He’s a mentor and an encourager. Suffice it to say, we could all use a person like Jack in our lives.

Here’s an excerpt from the first chapter:

“The light was dim, with only patches of the forest illuminated by moonlight.  The smell of oak came alive as Eve squinted and waited for her eyes to adjust. Her ears were attentive and on guard for any possible danger. The rain had stopped, and a slight breeze blew across the treetops.

After a minute passed, she could see the path again and continued moving forward.

“Staying in one place won’t help me, I have to keep moving.”

The light grew dim as she moved down the trail. Her senses still focused on her surroundings, she slowed her pace as worry began to set in.

“Should I turn around? There’s still time for me to get out of here in one piece,” she thought.

Drawing her cold hands together, she blew warm air through them and felt a brief relief from the sharp, persistent pain. As she continued forward the final remnants of moonlight left her path. The shadows within the trees brought a chill to her body. 

Eve’s ears perked at the sudden sound of running water. She looked in the direction of the sound and in the distance saw a flood of shimmering light emerging behind the trees, inviting her to move toward it. Eve stepped off the path and into the dense trees and shrubs. Branches and twigs grabbed at her wool jacket as she continued making her way toward the light.

The forest bed was covered with mushy leaves that sprung up and down with each step. Eve twisted and turned her body to avoid the reach of the branches. The light in the distance was growing, and the sound from the stream was intensifying. 

“This is it, I’m finally on to something.”

As Eve moved closer to the light and sounds, she found herself at the edge of a stream about four feet across. The intense light was brightest upstream, and after shrouding her eyes with her hands, she was able to see the rich, green leaves that hovered above the stream. The lushness of this area was unlike anything she had seen since waking up on the rock.  The light sparkled and popped as it burst through the trees and danced on the water. Eve rubbed her eyes again, this time ignoring the stinging pain it caused. She opened her eyes again and looked upon the light.”

And… what does she see?

You will have to wait until my next post to find out! I promise it will be worth the wait (with an illustration to prove it).

The above material was taken from the first 1/3 of the chapter and has not undergone vigorous editing, so I take no responsibility for grammar errors at this early stage. If there are issues, it must be someone else’s fault.

My next post, which will not be two and a half months from now, will include concept illustrations of a few creatures Eve will meet on her journey. In addition, I will introduce another character to you.

In the meant time, I’m off and running! See you soon!

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