A reddish bird

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This is a bird. It is reddish.

Ta da!

Sample

The Fire

Stuart did not come out of the house for a few hours, during which time Diana burned most of the extra furniture and melted an enormous hole in the black ice that surrounded the house. She could see the street outside the hole she’d made, and was delighted to find that the ice and snow appeared to have melted in the neighborhood.

Diana was just pushing the remnants of a decrepit armchair into the bonfire when Stuart came wandering down the steps of the front porch. He’d washed up his face and had his hands shoved into his pockets.

“Look, Stu! We can get out,” Diana called, pointing at the hole in the ice on the far side of the fire.

Stuart’s face crinkled up as he fought back several instinctually angry responses. Diana could see Stuart biting back a lot of different emotions and struggling to control himself.

Finally, with a very red face, he said, “Okay.”

“Let’s finish burning all this stuff, and then we’ll shift the ashes aside and go on an expedition,” Diana said, speaking with perfect good cheer.

At the suggestion of leaving the ice bubble, to which Stuart, in his frightened state, had grown excessively attached as a sort of magical safe space that would protect him from horrible things, Stuart went very quiet and then turned and walked back to the house. Diana suspected he was going to go and curl up into his bed to hide. She grinned and told herself she would go and fetch him out before she left.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel. Gabs has found a partner (which she is very glad about).

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Muscle Study

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Here is another study, because I’m working on figures. I’m nearing the point where sitting down with surface muscle anatomy will be useful again.

Ah, rehabilitation of former talent, etc.

Because I Was Formerly Awesome

I used to know a guy who was in love with a woman and wanted to marry her. He went away for a while on a journey of self-discovery and she married someone else.

He was so, so bitter, and she refused to tell him why she’d left him for another guy.

One of those Awkward Breakups

My secret suspicion is that the woman, while her at-the-time boyfriend was absent, realized that he’d been contextually pressuring her in dehumanizing ways for intimacy she was not, on her own power, prepared to offer, and the contrast of freedom to her previous relationship with him led her to break things off and move on.

Good for her, if that was the case, and poo-poo on him, because he felt he had a right to female sexuality.

Anyhoo, here’s the next snippet of Diana and Stu:

Sample

A Bonfire

Stuart and Diana hefted all the wooden pieces of furniture to a clear space of the yard and stacked them up near the ice.

“Let’s start with this and we can add the fabric-covered stuff after we get this burning,” Diana said.

“Yeah. Um, yeah,” Stuart said. He’d been getting increasingly nervous as they’d moved furniture together and Diana knew he was expecting the aliens to do something drastic when they got to the point of actually lighting a fire.

“Well, you go ahead and start the fire, Stu. I’m going to get something to roast the fruit on. Sticks or something,” Diana said. She didn’t want Stuart to know that she had no clue where matches or fire-starting materials might be, and Stuart was jumpy enough not to question her. He went and found a long-handled lighter while Diana procured a few skewers from the kitchen, and soon they were crouching over a pile of stuffing Stuart had taken from a couch and on the point of starting a fire.

Stuart’s hands were shaking so badly with fear that Diana took the lighter away and handed him the skewers.

“Di,” Stuart said, sounding ill.

“Mm?” she asked, fluffing the soft, cottony material under the broken sticks of an end table.

“Can we—would you mind letting me touch your arm or something, please?” Stuart asked.

“Why? Did you think something bad would happen?” Diana asked, though she knew perfectly well Stuart thought time would freeze or one of them would be removed.

“Well, I would just miss you,” Stuart explained.

“No, baby. You just feel sorry for yourself. That’s very different to missing me,” Diana said. She started the lighter and chewed on her lower lip as she pushed the flame into the stuffing. Stuart was quite offended, and angry enough to be willing to piss her off by potentially saying the wrong thing. Diana heard the indignation in his voice when he spoke again.

“I would miss your smile and the sound of your voice, Diana Vassel. They are distinctive parts of you that I’m fond of, and you can stick that in your pipe and smoke it however you like. So . . . there,” Stuart said, his voice wobbling near an instance of tears at the end.

Diana’s heart was melting a little but she didn’t want Stuart to overbalance from his current stable condition, and she was pretty sure he needed her to be consistent more than anything, so she made a friendly ‘Huh,’ of interest and went on lighting the fluff on fire.

“Are you going to say anything to me?” Stuart asked, sounding a tiny bit annoyed and bitter at her lack of response.

Diana blinked and looked around at Stuart, pretending to see him there for the first time.

“Oh my gosh, Stuart, where have you been? What was it like? I haven’t seen you for weeks!” Diana exclaimed.

Stuart’s face crumbled into the most desperate expression of pure sadness she’d ever seen in her life, and he jumped to his feet and sprinted towards the house before the first chaotic sobs started ripping out of his throat.

Ah, poor guy, Diana thought, smiling as she remembered the time years ago when Stuart had torn out a chunk of her hair. Diana felt that her patient and judicious torture of the young man was a perfectly just comeuppance for the way Stuart had beaten her up so often in the past, and Diana enjoyed watching the fire climb up to lick against the broken sticks of wood at the base of her pile of furniture.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, I’m building up to a manner of light-hearted romantic auction between the party-goers. They have already been practicing benign and healthy snuggles as a diverting group exercise, and are nearing the partnering stage.

Street Corner Study

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Here’s another practice run, and I’m working on facial structure next.

And here’s a morsel of Diana:

Sample

Time Passes

They reached a gradual compromise as the days went on. Every time Stuart was rude or pushy, in Diana’s opinion, she pretended he had only just appeared, and he ran away and cried. He seemed unable to get over this dramatic response, and as time passed, he became much more cautious in the way he spoke to her.

At the end of a week they were in a tenuous routine. Diana read next to Stuart and consented to hold his hand when he was being polite, and they gathered fruit from the concentric garden and went through Diana’s upkeep routine for keeping the house tidy.

“Hey, should we, like, do something about all that furniture in the backyard?” Stuart asked one day when they were sitting in the grass under the tree. Diana was working through a dry treatise on legal procedure, as she’d finished reading all the novels in the house, and Stuart was holding her free hand.

“What did you want to do about it?” Diana asked.

“Well, in the other timeline we burned it,” Stuart said.

“Let’s build a fire next to the ice and see if it melts,” Diana said, closing her book and standing up. Her hand, in this motion, pulled out of Stuart’s hand, and he stared at her and struggled with his desire to say that this was a terrible idea.

Diana could see that Stuart thought the aliens would interrupt again if they built a fire and tried to get free of their ice bubble, but she was pretty sure, based on her last negotiation with the aliens, that she could do whatever she liked as long as she and Stuart never got into any manner of dangerous fight.

“Come on, Stu. It’ll be fun. Bonfires are awesome in any case, and we can toast that fruit on sticks and see if it’ll bake through at all. Come on,” Diana said, holding out her hand.

Stuart held back an aggrieved sigh, for he was perfectly aware by now that she would leave him behind and pretend he’d disappeared and come back if he expressed any sarcastic or biting emotion over the situation. He took Diana’s hand and stood up to follow her to the stack of extra furniture behind their house.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, Gloria is being admired by Ming.

The Striped Canyon Where the Rock Snakes Live (which are super scary!)

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This is a partial sketch of the black and white rocks in the part of the book where the hunter fetches in some material from the quarry. It’s not finished yet, but yay. I think it looks like a zebra.

In other news . . . wow. Yup, I have nothing more to say about myself at this time.

But here is what happens next to Diana!

Sample

Stuart’s Suspicion

Diana kept a blithe, interested look on her face.

“Where have you been, Stu?” Diana asked.

“I was upstairs, Di. I’ve been behind you this whole time,” Stuart said, looking increasingly upset.

“Oh, wow. I thought I was here all by myself. Are you hungry? How long were you gone this time?” Diana asked.

“Don’t do that. I didn’t go anywhere; I’ve just been here, right behind you,” Stuart said.

“No, I don’t think so,” Diana said, frowning and looking sincere.

Stuart, who had been isolated in a plastic tube for the last four years, and whose mind had been taken back and forth many times through various timelines and situations, burst into tears and ran back into the house.

Diana smiled. Excellent, she thought, and she made several trips carrying her pile of eggplant-like fruits into the kitchen and started to whistle as she got into her usual cleaning routine.

By the time she made it upstairs to straighten up the bedrooms, she found Stuart curled in a ball on the bed, his shoulders hunched and his face marked with tears. He was sound asleep.

How sweet, Diana thought, and she went outside to climb her tree and read a book.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, the bachelor party has so far produced, um, three wedding proposals among the guests, who are all having a marvelous time.

Look! A Building!

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Well, this is me practicing two-point perspective. Seriously, this gives me heart palpitations.

Oh well. If I want to draw stuff, I have to be able to make backgrounds sometimes.

Here’s a bit of Diana:

Sample

The Proposal, Con’t

“Well, we were still in this house and you changed a ton, Di. Diana. Um, like, you were just older and more like you’d been through a war or something. You barked orders at me a lot, and did a lot  more cleaning. We renovated most of this house, and the aliens brought materials. I’m sure you were really there for most of it, but okay. I’ll keep talking like this, since you want me to,” Stuart said, giving Diana another scrutinizing glare.

Diana smiled in what she was sure was an enigmatic way and Stuart rolled his eyes.

“The aliens dropped off materials and books, like, home construction books, and we tore apart half the house and couldn’t put it back together again. I wasn’t very helpful, honestly, and you kept getting frustrated and hammering things, so the aliens just plopped us down in a different house one day. Like, we fell asleep here and woke up there. We were in different rooms, of course, since you said that thing about kissing,” Stuart said.

“Tell me, Stu. I want all of the story,” Diana said.

“Yeah, okay. This is stupid, though. I know you were there for that part, at least. You said that I was a selfish and absorbent kind of sponge who would get worked up and try to sleep with you if we kissed at all, and that we weren’t going to have sex unless we got married, and we couldn’t get married, of course, so that was just the same thing as saying we’d  never sleep together,” Stuart said.

Diana waited, and Stuart looked at her and grimaced when she didn’t say anything.

“So we were in separate rooms and woke up in a new house, and you were completely pissed at the aliens and argued that we had to come back here, so they brought us back and we worked on fixing up this house some more. We made more progress on putting things together the right way, though it was ridiculously difficult and we had to use weird power tools from the aliens, and then one day you’d managed to fix a wall that you’d hammered though by accident and you were so happy that you kissed me,” Stuart said, looking kind of nervous.

Diana smiled encouragingly and Stuart blushed.

“And I knelt down and asked you to marry me, and you said no, and then we kissed some more. And the next morning we woke up in the other house, the new house, and there were chairs and decorations for a wedding set up outside, though no people aside from a preacher, and I don’t think he was actually there or real, and we got married because the aliens said they’d kill me if you didn’t say yes. You said yes and we got married, and then you said you’d live in one half of the house and I had the other half, and you said we’d never kiss again. And then,” Stuart said, drawing a deep breath and letting out a heartfelt sigh, “we woke up the next morning and you were pregnant. I mean, we were in separate rooms. We didn’t have–have sex or anything, but the–I don’t think that part was real. You seemed pretty surprised today about having been pregnant, and also when you were pregnant you weren’t, um, as vehement about things as you’d been before. You were, like, more docile? And we did cuddle a fair bit while you were pregnant, though I was in the tube through this whole time and I never felt you, or anything but the plastic of the tube. The end,” Stuart said.

“How pregnant was I at the start?” Diana asked.

“When you woke up  pregnant? You said you were probably in the second trimester, because you were showing already. After that it was just months of waiting, and then there was another big gap at the end and there was just a baby in a little bouncy chair, and you were all floppy and not-pregnant, but fat. And then we just lived together with the baby for almost a year before you started shouting at the ceiling one day, and now we’re here. I mean, that was the end, was you shouting like that,” Stuart said.

“Huh,” Diana said.

“Yeah. You’re all snippy and angry when you’re pregnant, though,” Stuart said.

“It wasn’t really me. I wasn’t there for any of the pregnant parts,” Diana said.

“What about afterwards, with the baby?” Stuart asked.

“I won’t answer that. You need more sleep, Stu, and I want time to think. Go back to sleep,” Diana said, moving over to lean against the headboard and taking Stuart’s hand into her own.

Stuart closed his eyes with relief and then opened them and tried to look as if he didn’t care much about holding hands.

“That’s cute, honey. You’re going to be all stoic and brave for me? You are in love with me, aren’t you?” Diana asked.

Stuart made a noncommittal noise and buried his face in the pillow. Diana laughed and squeezed his hand.

“Sleep longer this time, sweetie. I’m going to think about things,” Diana said, grabbing up her novel.

“You can’t think and plan if you’re reading,” Stuart said, scooting closer.

“Back up, Stu. Stay over there. I’m holding your hand, not functioning as a human teddy bear. I can read and plan at the same time. Go to sleep,” Diana said, and she watched Stuart move in an irritable fashion back to his first spot and close his eyes with several dramatic sighs.

Diana hid her smile and found her place in her book, and Stuart passed out again without meaning to. Poor kid, Diana thought, and she started to plan out an approach to rehabilitate Stuart’s character and teach him empathy.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, Hans is babysitting a little girl who has gotten chocolate all over her face.

One Point Perspective

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I am a baby at drawing. But look at my pretty shadows! Yay!

I’m (insert mundane work details, indicating that I’m a-froth with bustling industry), and here is a bit of Diana for now:

Sample

The Proposal

“Well, we were here, just–just living here. Um, I don’t know how much you remember, Di. Diana, sorry,” Stuart said, flushing and scooting a little away on the bed.

Diana wanted to keep Stuart on the edge of feeling off-balance and uncomfortable, so she moved closer to keep them at the same distance.

He studied her for a moment, a hard light in his eyes, and then continued without making any comment on her behavior.

Good, Diana thought, and she looked at the bruising along Stuart’s face as he spoke.

“I don’t know what parts you were there for, but things started to jump around in my timeline after that fight we had. You remember, when I came back, or seemed to, and you threw water in my face and tried to beat me up?” Stuart asked.

“Yeah, I know that part,” Diana said.

“Good. Well, things got wonky after that. Um, I had you tied up in the bed, right? And I was trying to talk to you, to make you calm down, and then everything–well, the room around us dissolved and you and I both went and had a long talk with the aliens. Do you remember this?” Stuart asked.

Diana had no intention of revealing how much she’d experienced, so she made herself look haunted and tired and refused to answer. Stuart sighed.

“Yeah, I’ll just keep talking and telling my side. It’s hard for me to think about, too. I imagine it’s worse for you, if you do remember that stuff. When did you leave? What part did you miss?” Stuart asked.

“Stuart, talk,” Diana said.

“Yeah, okay. Well, I’ll work from that fight, then, and me tying you up. So the room dissolved and we had a really long talk with the aliens. They, um, froze you for parts of that, and then sometimes they froze me and talked to you instead. Negotiations went on forever, it seemed like, hours, and the conclusion was that we’d both be aged a bit and thrown into a facsimile neighborhood, to recreate young adulthood for the aliens. I feel really stupid saying all of this as if you weren’t there for it, Diana. I mean, you know most of this better than I do, I’m sure. You were managing most of it, telling the aliens what would be acceptable, and how things needed to be. I feel idiotic telling you the story like this,” Stuart said, his eyes asking her for help.

“No. Keep talking,” Diana said. Stuart sighed and nodded.

“So the aliens made us older. I was in my late twenties, I think, and you were at least twenty-one. I’m not sure exactly how old, but you told the aliens that twenty-one was your cut-off age for what you’d be comfortable with, and so you were early twenties and I was late twenties. Um, and we were still in this house at first. You changed so much, Di. I didn’t know at first if it was even you, but–I guess it might not have been you, actually,” Stuart said, looking moody.

“Look, Stu. If we ever get to the point of being really good friends and I feel I can trust you, then I’ll tell you my half and we can really compare timelines. For now, just be super honest,” Diana said.

“Okay,” Stuart said, clearly attempting to make himself small and docile-looking. Diana laughed and patted his knee, which made him flinch and then smile in a faltering manner.

“Stu, that’s not working. I know you’re not nearly this wrought up with dramatic feelings. Just talk,” Diana said.

Stuart’s looks melted into something like consternation. He eyed her and then sniffed with a ‘Well, fine, then’ kind of sound and went on.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, Rosie the toddler is about to be rescued (dramatically!).

Scary Sidewalks

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Because yes, straight lines and oblique angles are apparently terrifying.

This is Gabby, who is standing on the street and waiting for the two men whom she believes have been following her to come by and carry her off (it’s a long story, but she wants to get the painful, dying part over with). (And don’t worry; the two men aren’t actually going to do anything harmful to Gabby.)

Um, and here is some Diana, because I’m behind on my work just now:

Sample

The First Day

Stuart opened his eyes and reached at once for Diana’s body. She could tell he wanted to pull her close and cuddle, but she wormed free and stood up.

“Please?” Stuart asked.

“Physical intimacy is a bridge into your future capacity to cope, my love, and you have internal work to do before we get that far,” Diana said.

“What?” Stuart asked, blinking several times and looking angry.

“You are a stranger to yourself and a mean, crabbed old abuser. You have to change. I’m not going to snuggle with you in bed, Stu,” Diana said.

Stuart stared at her for a moment and Diana knew he wanted to argue. She imagined the aliens watching them, and she decided that causing Stuart emotional discomfort would be a nice thing to do, as he’d been causing her torment for the last many years.

“I’ll trade you, Stu. You tell me about us being married, and if I think you’re telling me the truth of how you really felt, I’ll kiss you,” Diana said.

Stuart’s face went through several color changes. Diana thought that he was journeying through mortification towards a kind of annoyed resignation.

“Where did you go this last time? Do you remember?” Stuart asked.

“No, that wasn’t the deal. I ask the questions and you answer. How did we get married? Who proposed?” Diana asked.

Stuart looked down at his hands.

“Are you going away again? You understand the aliens really well. Did they make a deal with you?” Stuart asked.

“Who proposed?” Diana asked. Stuart studied her face for a long moment.

“I did. I asked you,” Stuart said.

“How did it happen? I want to hear all the details,” Diana said, feeling enormously content and plopping down on the end of the bed to listen.

“Why aren’t you scared anymore?” Stuart asked, his voice low.

“I ask the questions, Stu-goo. Tell me about us,” Diana said. Stuart’s face reddened a great deal over ‘Stu-goo’, but Diana saw his cheeks drift a little in a smile.

“Um, well, we were here, you know,” Stuart said.

“And?” Diana asked. Stuart smiled and looked up at her. He looks very nice, Diana thought, when he is not scowling.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and I’m having a horrible Wednesday. In my current novel, the party is being delayed while the party-goers rescue a toddler from a crappy home situation.