Merry Christmas

So tomorrow is Christmas Eve, which makes today Christmas Eve-Eve, which makes it perfectly acceptable to give you something I made. I can’t give it to you, of course, but I drew it for you. Think of it as a Christmas card! I wanted to let you all know how much you mean to me. Every time you comment, you make my day. The fact that this blog is still going strong after almost seven years (although it’s switched domain a few times) is proof of your enthusiasm and dedication as readers. I love you guys. I hope your Christmas is absolutely joyeaux! And here’s my Christmas card to you: Azrael, Rooney and Eridanus (aka Rusty) asleep on the couch. Even a wysling’s gotta get 40 winks.

SleepyTime

 

As promised

Here are some more peeks into the Paper Crowns series, as well as some sketches I’ve doodled over the past few days. Mostly Rooney and Azrael (or Azney, as readers have dubbed them. Halcinny and Azney. I wonder what Asterope and Hermione’s ship name will be. Hermope? Asmione?) but a couple others.

azraelandrooneyAzney2

PaperCrownsHeroes

    

 I took a deep breath. “Do your rules involve having food somewhere?”  Azrael looked down at Patrick, who said, “We’re out.”  The wysling looked at me and shrugged. “We’re out,” he said.  “This is unbelievable!” I threw up my hands. “You are out of food – what – how do you expect me to make dinner?”  “You’ll think of something,” said Azrael reassuringly, and went back to his activity, which seemed to involve trying to spin an egg on the rim of a glass cup.

– Paper Hearts

In haughty defiance, I stood up and swung my leg over the seat. I had not accounted for the fact I was still shaking all over from the ride, and the minute I stood up on solid ground, I fell over. Azrael shot out one hand and caught my arm. “You might have mentioned in one of your many and varied letters just how clumsy you were,” he said. “I’d have coated everything in the house with rubber.”

– Paper Hearts

 I groaned and leaned back against the tree. “Being a princess isn’t really what everyone makes it out to be.”  “I never said it was,” said Hal.    “No,” I said. “My fairytale books did.”  “They had some things right,” he soothed. “Cinderella had her feet cut off, Beauty had to live with the Beast, Snow White was poisoned, Rapunzel’s prince was blinded forever—”  “You’re sounding like Azrael,” I said. “By which I mean, you aren’t helping.”

– Paper Crowns

            “All this wysary stuff is beyond me,” I said, trailing behind him as his long strides took him back to his motorcycle.        He paused in front of the motorcycle and, placing one hand on the handlebars, turned slowly around to look at me. “Wysary,” he said, enunciating each word carefully, “is not ‘stuff.’ It is a science, if you will.” “Magic,” I said.  “Science,” he repeated, pointing a finger toward the sky for emphasis. “You have obviously read too many books.” He climbed onto the motorcycle, turned the keys, and smiled proudly as the thing rumbled to life again. 

 “Next time, I’m taking a cab,” I said, climbing on behind him and wrapping my arms around his thin middle.  “If you keep this attitude, I wouldn’t be surprised if next time you flew in on a broom,” he said, spinning the motorcycle around and speeding in the direction of the house before I could fire my retort at him.

– Paper Hearts

“Ah – greetings,” I said again.  “You said that already,” said the voice.  “Of course I did.” I decided it would be best to agree with everything she said. “We have need of a favor.”  “I know.”  “Well – ah…um,” I said, unsure of where to go next.           “You are tiresome,” she said.  Desperate not to lose her attention – and possibly an entire kingdom – I said quickly, “Forgive my – er, graceless tongue, O Wisest of the Forest. It’s just that I’m in awe in your presence.” To Hal, I thought a dash of flattery can’t hurt, right?

            You call that a dash? In the forest where I come from we call that a landfill.

– Paper Crowns

             “I’ll probably regret asking,” I said, “but what are you doing?”  “None of your business,” he said cheerfully. “Have we got any silver spoons?”  “Third drawer on the left,” I said, “but I think they were intended for babies.”   He opened the drawer and withdrew a silver spoon less than four inches long. “Indeed,” he said, pinching it between his thumb and forefinger, “it would seem these are the spoons some people are born with in their mouths.” “Any bigger and they’d have to be cesareans,” I remarked in agreement.  He must have been in a good mood, because as he turned back to the disgusting mixture in the sink he said, “Never underestimate the importance of a good silver spoon when dealing with wysary, Rooney.”

            “I won’t,” I said, opening the fridge.

– Paper Hearts

“I’ll remember that,” said a new voice. This time, it was one I recognized. Seemingly out of thin air, Azrael had appeared and was leaning against the silver-twig railing with a melancholy look on his face.  “You!” I stood up immediately and shook my fist at him. “You left!”  “I know,” he said, propping his chin up on one hand.  There was really no response to that, so it took me a few seconds to think of anything to say. “I thought you were a horrible coward,” I admitted after a moment.  He turned his black eyes on me and said, “I am. I’m being horribly cowardly right now.”

            “No, you aren’t,” I said.   “Be quiet,” he said, “I’m convincing myself. I hate to do anything out of the goodness of my heart. It gives me an awful pain.”  “So why are you here?” I asked, glancing down at Salazar. He was sleeping as peacefully as any young boy, with his hands clasped together on his stomach. His curl blew slightly every time he snored. “The ol’ conscience giving you a turn?”  “I haven’t got one,” he said, his voice slightly pressed-sounding because he didn’t bother to raise his head before he spoke.          

            “A turn?”  “A conscience.”  “That must be awful,” I said pityingly.  “Not really,” he said.

– Paper Crowns

“You,” I said, “are a beastly person. Did you know?” 

            “He knows,” said Patrick.

            “You’re going to burn your waffle,” said Azrael. 

            I folded my arms again. “How could you be that nasty to a mother whose son has just been kidnapped? Especially when he’s a prince? The fate of a kingdom depends on him, and you just lay there like a piece of limp celery!”

            “You’re burning your waffle,” said Azrael. 

           “I ought to let you starve for a week, after the way you behaved!”

            “You burned your waffle,” said Azrael, standing up and brushing past me to the waffle maker, where a thin trail of smoke was blowing gently from the side.

– Paper Hearts

            “Why doesn’t it say King Oberon?” I asked, running my finger drown the gold-embossed letters on the spine. Hal glanced over. “Was it written by Eridanus?”  I checked. “Yes.” Somewhere behind another shelf, Azrael’s voice shouted, “Go, Eridanus!”  I opened the book. “What’s so different about him?”   “He was a wysling who didn’t think much of Oberon,” said Hal, easing himself down onto the floor. “Or anyone but himself, for that matter. He was extremely self-centered.”  “Oh, surely he wasn’t really as bad as all that,” I said, glancing down the index.

            Hal snorted and said, “He wrote an entire twelve-volume autobiography before he was forty, by human counts.”           “Well,” I said, and my eyes landed on the first line of the introduction – ‘For those of you who think you know about your king’ – and added, “he might have been a tiny bit vain.”

– Paper Crowns

 “I need a rock,” I muttered. There was a faint, bumping noise behind me, and the rock I’d previously thrown bumped along the ground and rolled to a stop against my foot. This did not strike me as strange – in fact, I had half a mind that Azrael had done it himself. I picked up the rock, pulled back, and threw it at the window.  It crashed through with a tinkling of broken glass, and I jumped back to avoid any fallen pieces. There was a yelp from inside the room, and a few seconds later Azrael shoved the window up and leaned his head out.

            “Hark,” he said, knocking a shard of glass off the windowsill. “What large and hefty rock through yonder window breaks?”

            “Open the front door,” I growled.

            He pressed a hand to his heart. “I would never contrive to keep you out of somewhere you really wanted to be.” He ducked out of sight and re-appeared holding the rock. He gave it a quizzical look before tossing it back out the window several feet away from me.

– Paper Hearts

 “Hey, Azrael,” I said, doing my best to look calm and collected. “Where were…you.” My question faded when I saw the brass cage hanging from his arm. Inside it was a large bird, with black feathers so glossy they were almost purple. “What did you go and buy a crow for?”

            “It isn’t a crow,” he said loftily. “It’s a raven, and I’m going to call him Poe. Poe, say hello to Rooney.”

            “No,” it croaked.

– Paper Hearts

“You might consider saying ‘thank you’ once in a while,” I said, stalking over to the kitchen and plunking the dishes in the sudsy, lukewarm water.

            He snorted. “I might stick a fork in the toaster,” he said.

            I lifted my hands out of the water and threw a dripping, soapy fork at him. He snapped his fingers and it burst into a small shower of snow and floated to the floor, where it created a damp patch on the wood.       

            “Rooney,” he began, but I was having none of it. I threw another spoon, and a fork, and another spoon, and soon the air was full of snowflakes. Patrick woke up in the living room and gave a screech when he saw the flurry spinning like a smallish blizzard in the kitchen, but was wise enough to keep quiet when he saw it was an argument.

            “You are a beast!” I said, hurling a small fork through the snow at the wysling. “I hardly know you at all and I just want you to know that you offend me greatly.”

            He must have been distracted, because the fork turned into a tissue. He gave it a startled glance. “Rooney, would you stop behaving like a madwoman and calm down?”

            “I don’t feel calm,” I growled, holding a butter knife threateningly in one hand, ready to throw it as hard as I could. “I don’t like living under the same roof as a heartless, stuck-up lout!

            “And I don’t like living with a prying, demanding busybody who ruins my eating utensils,” he said, dodging the knife and spreading his arms out in front of the sink full of dishes and silverware.

            Although it may not be so full of silverware anymore, I thought with a touch of remorse. I flicked my hands at him and he wiped his sleeve across his face, clearing the water away. “You aren’t a nice person,” I told him.

            “I never said I was; and you’ll notice I never replied to your letters, which is a definite sign of a rude and inconsiderate person. You need to lower your expectations about me,” he said.

            “NO,” the raven shouted from the birdcage.

            “Oh, shut up,” Azrael said crossly.

– Paper Hearts

“I don’t make money,” he said gloomily. “Not out of thin air, anyway. It’s against my policies.”

            “You have policies?” I was astonished.

            He gave me a withering look. “Yes.”

            “Well, you can forget what I said to your horrid sister, anyway,” I said, closing my eyes and letting out a deep, relaxing breath. “I only said it to make her leave. I still think you’re awful.”

            “I should hope so,” said Azrael.

– Paper Hearts

The large candle in the middle of the table had been lit already, I saw as I came down the stairs. Azrael sat Indian-style in the living area with Poe’s cage in front of him. As I stepped into the kitchen area, he said without looking up, “I’m teaching him to say ‘nevermore.’”

– Paper Hearts

            I brought my hand up close to my eyes for a better look. “I wish you wouldn’t be so randomly nice and helpful,” I said. “It makes me nervous.”

    – Paper Hearts

An angelic (or not) sketch

AngelSketch

I’ve had a bit of artists’ block lately; nothing I draw seems to come out how I want it, and so I was exercising my arm a few weeks ago, hoping to ge tback in the swing. I was trying to figure out exactly how I envisioned Angel, my vampire in This Mortal Coil, and at first I thought the sketch was turning out horrid and would eventually end up in the trash, but the more I erased and re-drew the more it began to flesh out. When the sketch was over, I had exactly what I wanted; and for those of you who were still curious abou this appearance, now you know. He’s very angular.