Study of a Chestnut

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Here is a simple color study.

Also, here is a dab of Diana:

Sample

A Stolen Mom-Van

“Well, you wanted to go to your house. How far is it?” Diana said.

“We’ll have to drive,” Stuart said.

“Uh,” Diana said, for she was not at all sure that any of the myriad cars scattered around the city would function.

“They work. I mean, they did in the versions that I lived through. We could always find a car then,” Stuart said.

“What about keys?” Diana asked.

“Um, I can just, um, steal some keys. That’s what I did before,” Stuart said.

“What, by breaking into people’s houses? Okay. Show me,” Diana said.

They spent a diverting afternoon together, Diana trailing behind Stuart as he investigated what he called ‘promising spots,’ which, as far as Diana could see, meant a house that looked poorly defended with a car out front.

“Ha!” Stuart cried at last, thrusting aloft a set of keys he had fobbed from their latest break-in.

“I still don’t know that the car’s going to start, Stu,” Diana said, following him down the sidewalk to the vehicle, which was a dinged-up mom van in periwinkle blue. Stuart got into the driver’s seat and started the van, which rumbled in a prompt and reassuring manner. “Okay, you win,” Diana said, laughing, and she climbed into the passenger side.

“Yes! We’re driving again! Driving with you is really fun. You haven’t found out yet, because we’ve never driven together for real, but we get along really well when we’re driving. We used to go exploring a lot, and I would find CDs in people’s houses to play for you. It was charming, if I do say so myself,” Stuart said, driving down the quiet street.

“Did we ever sleep together?” Diana asked. She had, in the spirit of adventure and ‘no one else is on the road,’ failed to put on her seat belt, and Stuart noticed at this juncture and pulled slowly over to the curb.

“Buckle, Miss Vassel. I am a model citizen, even with the proverbial lights of government temporarily shuttered. You are being unsafe. Foolhardy, even,” Stuart said.

“You’re different,” Diana said, putting on her seat belt. Stuart started to drive again, heading north.

“I know! I turn chatty and kind in a car for some reason. Um, you asked about us sleeping together. Are you asking because I admitted to lying about everything, so now you think I lied about that, too?” Stuart asked.

He looked and sounded so different from his normal cantankerous self that Diana turned sideways in the seat and stared at him. He grinned at her, obviously aware of the difference.

“I’m so likable, right? I haven’t figured out how to be myself like this any other time than when we’re driving. The second we get out of the car, I’ll turn back into a super mean loser. It’s weird. Oh, but sex. Um, we never slept together, no. Here, you can see my back while I drive,” Stuart said, leaning forward a little. The bloodstained marks of his alien tattoo were a peaceful, glistening blue. “See? I’m totally telling the truth. I also, for some reason, don’t have a hard time holding back on the fibs in a car. Isn’t that wild? Annoying, though, too, because I can’t figure out what it is that makes such a big difference to me. Maybe it’s that I’m in control of the vehicle. We held experiments in that fake timeline, to figure out if it was just being in a car, and if you drove—I taught you how to drive, by the way—if you were driving, I was just as cranky and irritable as ever, but as soon as I was in the driver’s seat, everything was just peachy.”

Stuart sighed, turned onto another street, and kept talking.

“But we never slept together, no. I would cuddle with you on couches a lot, and put my head on your shoulder. That’s as close as we ever came to, like, real snuggling. You wouldn’t kiss me, either. I lied about that, about all the kissing in the fake timelines. There was no kissing at all, aside from the kissing at the very beginning when you were really there. I love kissing you. Even in the tube when I couldn’t feel anything about it, I loved it. I don’t know why. I mean, I love you, so maybe that’s why, but I feel safe when I’m making out with you. Not that we’ve done it enough for me to really—”

“Pull over,” Diana said. Stuart glanced at her with a smile and did so.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, there is drama over the hierarchy in the hunting group.

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Emotion/Motion Study

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This is a frightened lady with a bonnet. The bonnet, of course, is falling off in her fright.

And now, a bit of Diana:

Sample

The Power of Stuart’s Kisses

Diana, in the very back of her mind, felt a small warning voice piping up to inform her that this was a terrible idea, and she sighed a little and pushed away from Stuart’s kiss. He let go of her, but stayed so close that Diana felt the warmth of his face on her skin.

“Hey,” Stuart murmured, his lips so near to Diana’s mouth that she told herself it was a talking-kiss, an embrace with words.

“You kinda took me by surprise there, Stu,” Diana said, fighting back a wave of ‘just kiss him some more’ that was cresting through her body. Stuart smiled a little and pecked her on the cheek before stepping back.

“Was I a super good object for you, Di? I really don’t want to go into your house. We could go to mine instead,” Stuart said. She was still carrying the alien backpack on her shoulders and was highly desirous of filling it with her own things.

“I want more pants. I want, um, I want to change my clothes,” Diana said. All her focus had dissipated. Stuart looked at her for a moment and then came close and kissed her some more. “Mm,” Diana said, putting her arms around Stuart’s neck.

“You like this, Diana,” Stuart said against her mouth, his voice making a fond, delicate song out of her name.

“Well, yeah,” Diana agreed, snuggling against his body.

“Why?” Stuart asked, a sly quirk tipping up the corners of his mouth. His smile, at this moment, brought into sharp contrast for Diana the reality of her position when it came to both the aliens and Stuart, and she disentangled herself and went around to look at Stuart’s back.

“That’s a rude thing to say, Stu. Thanks for saying it, though. I won’t kiss you again,” Diana said, examining the dried blood coating his skin.

She saw Stuart start to form the question, ‘Why not?’, but he stopped himself and worked at looking peaceful. Guilt pulled at the edge of Diana’s heart. She was fully aware that this was the first time she had felt anything resembling guilt near Stuart, or on his behalf, and came to the conclusion, which she was pretty sure was accurate, that the aliens would delight in this new emotional dynamic. “Well, the aliens will be overjoyed now. Stay here, Stu. I’m going to get some clothes,” Diana said, and she left him standing on the side lawn of her old house and went to find the spare key near the back door.

Diana was both pleased and surprised that Stuart obeyed, in the sense of staying put and not insisting on following her into the house. She cleaned up the blood on her skin and found new clothes, and packed up a variety of things from her room and the kitchen before going outside and locking the door. She kept the key in her pocket and went around the house, where she found Stuart waiting and looking both patient and hopeful.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, the pilot has been given tasty snacks to tide him over while the meeting continues.

Surface Anatomy

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More muscle studies.

And Diana:

Sample

Stuart’s Tattoo

Diana didn’t feel she would be able to drag Stuart anywhere, as he was a lot larger than she was and had a good deal of muscle everywhere. Diana sat down in the grass and examined his marks, which had stopped bleeding. She pushed her fingers along the outer edges of the largest and bloodiest one, and the gleaming mark, which had been an angry red, settled into a muddy brown under her touch.

Stuart sighed deeply and made a comfortable sort of murmur, squirming on the grass.

“Are you awake?” Diana asked, moving her bloodied fingers to another mark and watching it change to a friendly brown.

“Mm, yeah,” Start mumbled. He didn’t sound like a person who would be prepared to go anywhere or stand up, and Diana settled into the grass and started to lay her whole forearm against his marks, which began to turn green. “Ooh, that’s better. Thank you,” Stuart said.

“Why did you do this to yourself? Hang on, don’t answer that. You keep dragging me off track. Why were you lifting weights? Tell me about that first,” Diana said, watching Stuart’s skin fluctuate between a flush of embarrassment and a shiver, whether of unease or liking she couldn’t tell.

“But I don’t want to talk about that. Damn!” Stuart exclaimed, for his tattoo flooded bright red and started to bleed again.

“Dude, come on. This is so destructive. Just tell me, sweetie,” Diana said.

“I don’t want to!” Stuart said, his voice climbing to a pitch of exquisite pain as his many tattoo marks split and formed a manner of waterfall of blood.

“Stu, come on,” Diana said.

“I don’t—oh,” Stuart said, his whole body shaking and his words cutting off. Diana sighed and moved over to sit on top of Stuart, who fell quiet at once and started to breathe deeply.

“I make you feel safe,” Diana said.

“Will you help me with something?” Stuart asked, his voice strained with the sound of a person holding back a few smart remarks.

“Why were you lifting weights?” Diana asked. She couldn’t see Stuart’s face, but his throat emitted a low, strangled growl, and she suspected he was trying really hard not to be rude.

“I—” Stuart said, and then he stopped and struggled with himself for a while. The marks had stopped bleeding as soon as Diana sat on Stuart. He was on his side in the grass, and she was sitting astride his ribs. His blood was in her jeans, but Diana was five minutes away from her closet and wanted very much to change clothes anyway.

“Why?” Diana asked.

“It gives me a—a sense of control, being able to shape my body,” Stuart said, his voice shaking.

“Good,” Diana said, getting off of Stuart and grabbing his hand. “Stand up. You maybe get a kiss for that, if you keep behaving in the next couple of minutes,” she said.

Stuart sprang to his feet, crowded into her space, and started to kiss her so deeply that Diana got dazed and forgot that she was in charge.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, the hunter is talking about how he met Parker.

A Painting of a Half-Alien Love Interest

 

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This is a character from my current science fiction series. She’s half-human, half-alien, and is murdered by a nasty guy early on in the backstory.

Here’s what Diana does next:

Sample

What Happened Next

“You seriously think I would try to kill you?” Diana asked, slow rivers of shock that felt like icy sludge moving through her lower back and along her arms. She could not conceive of a world in which Stuart was afraid of her, even in an only hypothetical sense.

“Yeah, but anyone would. I mean, I’m hateful to you. I knew you would get rid of me if you could by the time we were about ten,” Stuart said.

“You were ten or me? There’s a three-year gap, Stu. Do you not realize that we’re not the same age?” Diana asked.

“No, I remember. Um, you were ten and I was thirteen, and I knew you’d kill me if you could,” Stuart explained. Diana stared at him. “What? I was mean,” Stuart said.

Diana felt that ‘mean’ was a pretty inaccurate way to describe Stuart’s behavior at the time, which she categorized as actually sociopathic and evil.

“You’re doing this thing you do, Stu. I don’t like it. You bring up these emotionally upsetting things to draw me off track, and I’m not going to let you. Why were you lifting weights?” Diana asked, fighting back the flush of heat and fear mixed that spun along her skin.

Stuart smiled and laughed a little. Diana stopped herself from asking what was so funny.

“You ought to try to kill me, honestly. After I was about fifteen I was trying to provoke you to that, and you never broke. Why didn’t you ever hit me back?” Stuart asked.

Diana started, at this point, to experience severe emotional distress, for Stuart’s laughter and calm way of talking were bringing up the worst memories. She felt herself going into shock and she let go of Stuart, walking like a zombie towards the back of her house. Stuart didn’t follow, and once she got about fifteen feet away from him, her body calmed down.

Hang on a second, Diana thought, and she whirled and studied Stuart, who was smiling at her from a distance.

“You’re doing this on purpose, then?” Diana called.

“I said there was stuff I could do to get taken back, Di. This is the baby version of that,” Stuart said. Diana marched back to him and grabbed his hand.

“Why were you working out?” Diana asked. Stuart’s good-humored expression faltered.

“No, we’re talking about you, Di. About how scared you are,” Stuart said.

“Show me your back, now,” Diana said. Stuart blinked a few times, and she saw he was unhappy about doing so. “Now!’ Diana said, her voice angry. Stuart turned slowly and Diana saw that the alien marks along his back had turned a brilliant crimson. Several of the larger marks had actually opened up and were sending rivulets of blood down his skin and into the waist of his pants. Diana swore and went to Stuart, looking at the cascade of blood.

“Di! Don’t you start using foul language just because I do!” Stuart said, sounding like a matronly kind of mother hen. Diana was tempted to laugh at the absurdity of Stuart being concerned about language when he was bleeding all over himself. Diana was not normally interested in touching open injuries, but the tattoo was alien and had earlier responded to her. She wanted to know what would happen, and so she reached out and laid one palm into the largest mark, which was releasing a thin gush of blood down Stuart’s muscular back.

The moment Diana touched against his injury, Stuart let out the cry of a dying man and crumbled down to his knees. She stayed with him, pushing her palm harder against the wound, and Stuart started to breath in with violent greed, as if he’d been drowning and now breached the surface of the water.

“Baby! Baby, don’t stop. That feels so good,” Stuart gasped between his heaving sighs, and then he swooned over and lost consciousness.

Well, this is a new development, Diana thought, looking at the bleeding teenaged boy curled up on the grass of her lawn.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, someone just changed sides (and is crying about it).

A Bear Study

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Here is a predator study. I was in a bit of a rush when I drew this, so there’s no color in there yet.

I’m gradually (really gradually) working up towards writing regular blog posts again (with writing chunks), and I’m surprised at my level of resistance to the idea. This is clearly a form of productive self-torture I can push myself through.

The reformation of my fear is, I hope, productive in the end.

Here’s what happens next to Diana:

Sample

Diana’s Questions

“You did okay, Stu. Now listen. I want to have a long discussion and you’re having a really hard time keeping on topic, so here’s the deal. I will hold your hand and someday in the future I might kiss you, but you have to stop interrupting the flow of discussion. I want to tack down all the things that have happened and pin down your thoughts, and we can’t do that if you keep on adding in extra bits of how much you love me, and stuff like that,” Diana said, pulling Stuart to her front door and trying the handle.

The door was locked, and Diana grimaced and led Stuart off the porch and around the house to the back door.

“So I still don’t really feel like you’ve answered my question about what happened when the aliens got you. Let’s back up and cover that until I’m satisfied. Why were you on the weight bench? What were you doing?” Diana asked, striding through the overgrown grass around her parents’ house.

“I was lifting weights, Di,” Stuart said, making a face at her question.

“Why?” Diana asked. Stuart stopped walking. Diana tugged at him.

“But—I was lifting weights, Di!” Stuart exclaimed, almost laughing. Diana dragged him toward the back of the house.

“Why?” Diana asked, her voice determined.

“I don’t understand the question!” Stuart said.

“You understand it just fine. You don’t like the implications. Why were you lifting weights?” Diana asked.

“What are the implications of you asking me like that?” Stuart asked, his voice a little dodgy. Diana shook her head to say that she wouldn’t answer and Stuart dithered for a long moment as she pulled him through the grass.

Stuart was fighting her with every step, trying to convince her with the weight of his body to give up. Diana didn’t give up. Stuart drew in a sigh tinged with resignation.

“Well, I’ll answer my own question, shall I? About what the implications are. Um, I think that you’re trying to—well, to get a fix on who I really am and how I think, and that makes me nervous because you hate me, and if you see more of me and understand more about me, you’ll hate me even more and maybe kill me,” Stuart said.

Diana stopped walking, for she was thoroughly surprised, and turned to stare at Stuart.

“Well? It’s true,” Stuart said with a shrug.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, the meeting is progressing steadily (it’s a long discussion, but very satisfying).

Dressage Standing Study

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Another study. I’m still working on wrapping my brain around using the whole page without freaking out and doing the old warped lack of perspective shtick.

Here’s what happens next with Diana:

Sample

The Girl on the Energy Leash

“So the interrogation-type talk was still going on, with the two aliens asking me questions, and these other two aliens came in with this girl and they were just watching, and then they said a few things to each other, and I don’t know what they were talking about. They were using their alien language, so I didn’t follow what was happening at all, but the girl didn’t seem to be able to see me, and she kept looking at one of the aliens that had her and saying that Jordan was coming to get them, and then her eyes would get kind of blank and a big pulse of light would go along the energy lines and sink into her body. She got really calm when that happened, and kind of dazed. She acted like Jordan was a guy who would come and beat the aliens up, though. The aliens just ignored her, aside from giving her whatever the energy throbs were when she got excited again. I forgot to tell you that part, and then the other part that I haven’t told you yet,” Stuart said, drawing a deep breath and looking both relieved to be saying what had happened to him and nervous about what Diana might have to say about it afterwards, “is that partway through the interview of them asking me questions, they led me out of the conference room and I saw the experiment tubes for the first time. It was creepy, Di,” Stuart said.

Diana believed Stuart that it had been eerie and strange, but she withheld any comment until she heard more about it. Stuart frowned at her.

“You don’t react to things the way I imagine you reacting in my mind,” Stuart said. Diana flicked an eyebrow and pulled Stuart up the sidewalk towards her old house. Stuart noticed where they were and started to blush, dragging back against Diana’s hand. “I don’t want to go in, Di,” Stuart muttered.

“Talk,” Diana said, renewing her grip on Stuart’s hand and leaning her full weight against him, which made him laugh, though his eyes were stressed.

“Yeah, okay. I don’t want to go in,” Stuart said, almost to himself. “Um,” he said with a sigh, letting Diana drag him towards the front door. “So they led me along a kind of walkway in the ship we were in, and to the right and left were just—just hundreds of clear plastic tubes with people inside. It was creepy. They didn’t seem to be really alive, in that none of them seemed very aware of where they were. It was like fish in a freezer, but still alive. Everyone’s eyes were blank. And we passed another room that seemed like a kind of experimental surgery. There was a really old man in there and I only saw in for a second while we walked past, but it seemed like the aliens were doing something with his hip, like he was in surgery. They wouldn’t stop asking me questions so I didn’t have time to ask about any of it, and then they gave me a kind of paper and said I had to sign it, and it turns out they meant that I had to put my hand against their paper, and that was signing. So I did, and I think it was a contract for me to come and do something with you, because later, after I came down to see you and then touched your arm that first time, the aliens that took me away shouted for a long time and were waving the paper in my face, so I think I broke their contract. I don’t feel bad about it because I don’t know what the contract said, but clearly I was not their favorite person after that. Did I answer your question okay?” Stuart asked, glancing at Diana and trying to ignore the fact that they were standing on her front porch.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, Eric is outlining his goals for the meeting.

A Sketch And Some Story

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Here is one of the image-maps that the aliens in my conquest/invasion series use to categorize their human captives.

And also, here is what Diana does next:

Sample

The Protestation of the Young Man

“Well, I don’t know what you want me to say, Di. You wanted to know what happened, and this is what happened. Do you want to see my back, sweetie?” Stuart asked, clearly hoping that this would make everything all right again.

“No. Does it bother you that you lie all the time?” Diana asked.

“No, not really. I mean, everyone does except for you,” Stuart explained. Diana narrowed her eyes. “Well, everybody tells lies, Di! You’re, like, miss perfect, okay? And I like you for it. Other people aren’t like you,” Stuart said.

“Had it occurred to you, then, that I might not be overjoyed to be lied to continuously?” Diana asked.

“Um, no? Not really. I don’t think about stuff like this, Di. Sorry,” Stuart said.

“We’ll circle back to this, Stu. I want to hear about what you said to the aliens,” Diana said.

“Yeah! Um, so they kept asking questions about you, because I told them you were my life mate person, and I kind of just swapped out your life situation with some details from my foster sister’s life to make you sound really damaged and pathetic, and the aliens bought it, so they said that they were going to help me get you all straightened out and, uh. Okay, this next part is kind of, um, exciting? Upsetting? I’m telling you the truth, though,” Stuart said.

“I know, honey. I’m not an idiot. I can see you’re telling me the truth. Just keep going,” Diana said, feeling that she was about to be awash in a particularly disturbing story on Stuart’s end.

“Well, the aliens said they’d help me come and isolate you so we could work all our problems out, and then they kind of wanted to study us while we, uh, did life together,” Stuart said. It was perfectly obvious to Diana that he was leaving most of the details out.

“So they want to watch us have sex and make babies, and then raise a family together,” Diana said. Stuart stopped walking and stared at Diana, who regarded him with slight annoyance.

“How come you know all that, just from what I said?” Stuart said. Diana tugged on his hand to make him continue walking.

“I told you, sweetie, I’m not answering your questions until I’m satisfied. I’ve been the one off balance this whole time and I’m tired of it. I’ll ask the questions. They wanted to watch us form a human family unit?” Diana asked.

“Well, yeah. They seemed very interested in that, and I didn’t want to—oh, I kind of left this part out. So while I was talking to these two aliens, a couple of others came in, and they had a human girl with them, a girl in her twenties, probably, and she was on a kind of leash. It’s hard to call it a leash, but I don’t know what else to say. There were bits of light coming from their hands, their limb-thingies, and extending out to her elbows, and it looked like she couldn’t really move unless they gave her permission. And she seemed kind of drugged,” Stuart added.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, the meeting is still getting organized on a group flowchart.