Art – Concept Art by Cascuda

Happy Valentine’s Day!

One of my goals last December was to commission art for my unfinished projects. I was trying to find some motivation to keep writing after a very hard year, and I decided it would be the perfect Christmas present to myself.

And today I can finally share with you the first concept art I commissioned for the Sanctuary Project:

An underground lake with an island in the center. There are two characters on the nearby shore, separated by a river. One is short, blue and transparent, the other is tall, dark and wears a cloak.

This WIP was going to be a High Fantasy short story full of atmospheric vibes and aesthetics, but it might end up becoming something a bit longer. As you can see, the story will be set partly underground and feature characters from different species. I created it as a counterpoint to my other projects, so it started as something short and fun to write, precisely because it was so different. I recycled tropes from my other projects, but subverted them, and I tried to keep it light… but it has become something longer and more serious than I originally intended.

But let’s talk about the most important thing: the amazing artist of this illustration is Cascuda, and you can find all their amazing work and commission information clicking on the following links:

Eleventh Notebook

Mafalda notebook with a yellow cover and Mafalta looking at a starfish.

After my previous notebook, I started this one because it had been a present from a friend. I chose it before Quino passed away, so it unfortunately took a new and much deeper meaning while I was using it.
It was a pretty nice notebook, with a good size, blue and green pages signed by Mafalda, a document pocket with Mafalda’s face, and a couple of comic strips inside. By the way, the Spanish text in the cover means “And why don’t we start building a better world?”, which is why I thought it would be good to do some world-building next.

Don’t think lockdown has been that good for my writing inspiration. Holidays were, though. And I’ve also used this notebook for my research, which just involved reading and taking notes, so I’m still a turtle writer. Don’t worry.

Anyway, I wrote down several ideas and questions, mostly for the Academy and Sanctuary projects. I also wrote sample outlines and used them with these projects. However, I’m having some trouble with the Academy outline because I tried to merge two characters into one to fix something, and suddenly some other things didn’t make sense. Fortunately, I think I have realized what the problem is, but I ended up so frustrated I couldn’t continue working on Academy any more (and isn’t that the story of my life?), so I focused on Sanctuary then, and I’m still working on it.

Writing Projects

I’ve talked about my projects before in this post, and I’ve given more details in my notebook updates, but I keep losing track of my ongoing projects because there are so many of them. I saw Spanish authors sometimes have a Future Projects page on their blogs, and I decided to copy the idea because, if it’s difficult for me… no one else would be able to follow, right?

Anyway, I’ve created a list, and now each project comes with a provisional placeholder title, a short explanation and a free stock image. Being able to visualize my projects like this is amazing, and I’m already looking forward to working on them again, so I’m glad I did this.

Hope you like it too!!!

A wolf.

Feathers

A High Fantasy short story

This one is short and has very few characters. Animals, magic and loneliness are important.

I’m working on the outline, but let’s be honest, I’m not a plotter. If only inspiration would take me here…

A volcano erupting against a starry sky.

Oracle

A High Fantasy Romance

This is my longest and most ambitious project, and the first one I started plotting. It’s been years in the making, so it’s had lots of changes, and it will probably have many more before I’m done with it.

It’s going to take a while because it’s a looong story with slow-burn and pining.

Madrid's Plaza Mayor.

Brothers

A Historical Romance

This one will also be set in Spain some centuries ago. If all goes well, it might even have more than one book, each featuring a different couple.

I’m already working on the research phase of this project, but I still don’t know how long it will take.

Want to see more? You can browse through all of them in my new “Projects” page here. And I’ve added the link to the blog’s menu, so you can check them out whenever you want.

Tenth Notebook

Kimmidoll notebook with a grey cover with green plants and a pink bird. There is a grey ribbon bookmark attached, and at the end it has a kimmidoll wearing a kimono with the notebook's pattern.

I got this Kimmidoll notebook ages ago, when they were still slightly popular, and the pages are already yellowing. The notebook actually fits inside the grey cover, so it could be reused for another notebook, but I don’t have any other notebook that can fit inside.

Anyway, I filled this one with lots of notes because I’ve been doing some research, reading about writing Romance, the history of Madrid and mythology. I also found some notes about how to cope with lockdown, mental health and self-care.

Remember I said I’d decided to write and read what I enjoyed? Well, I was enjoying reading non-fiction, since I’ve always loved learning, and I’ve been writing some random scenes out of order, and it’s been good. I haven’t been writing the story I wanted to finish, but I have for the longest High Fantasy one I’ve been thinking about for years. I started wondering, again, whether I should have one, two or more POVs, so it will take much longer to write.

I’ve come to accept that this is how it works for me. It will take me a long time to finish anything, but if this is what I need to keep enjoying it, that’s what I’ll do. If it sounds like I’m trying to convince myself, it’s because I am, but I’ve realized that, after deciding I’m going to take my time and follow inspiration, I started writing more in my notebook. I finished it sooner than I expected and I’ve already started another one, so this new method might be working!

Yes, I write less often. Yes, I write only what I feel like and don’t try to focus on one project any more. But somehow, I’m also writing more than when I was trying to force myself to write daily for the same project. So maybe this is my method.

Maybe you think I could have posted this sooner given I finished the notebook so fast, and you’d be right. I had planned to post this back in July, but I’ve been too busy at work and didn’t have time to finish transcribing the notebook. I just can’t sit down and stare at a computer for so many hours. It’s not good for my mental health.

Anyway, now I’ve finished this, so I can celebrate and move forward!

Ninth Notebook

Blue notebook.

If you were looking forward to seeing more posts about notebooks, you might have noticed it’s been a long time since my previous one. I was going to say this was due to me catching up with the present once I finished my eighth notebook, but then I realized it’s been 10 months.

Of course, I had several months of non-writing because… we can call it writer’s block because I don’t know if it was anxiety, burnout, depression… or all/none of the above. Plus, I don’t want to bore you with the details.

What I wanted to tell you is that this notebook was a present from one of my best friends, who has always supported my writing. The cover is smooth and water resistant, and there is a little secret:

Blue notebook with a colourful fore-edge.
A decorated fore-edge!

I started it last September, and I did mention the notebook in my update back then. I thought I was going to finish soon, but life happens. I managed to meet my goal of reaching the middle of the notebook in October, but I didn’t even post an October update. I started writing again in March, so I’ve finished the other half of the notebook since then. It’s a welcome change.

Anyway, about what I wrote in it… Remember I said I wanted to focus on one or two of my unfinished stories and finish them? Well, I did remember, but I didn’t do it anyway. I started working on them, but then I had some interesting ideas for a different one, so I had to write those down. As a result, this notebook is again a representation of my inner chaos and I haven’t finished anything at all.

Still, I’m glad I’m writing and having ideas again, so I’m not really complaining. It’s hard to come up with words these days, so I feel fortunate for this tiny, flimsy light in the middle of the dark.

Eighth Notebook

Cover of the Embellished Manuscripts notebook with a draft by Chopin and his signature.

The Embellished Manuscript collection is back! This one has the music sheet of one of Chopin’s Polonaises on the cover. Beautiful, right? I’m in love with this notebook. Chopin means a lot to me because I’ve studied piano in the past. I’ve probably told you I touched a piece of music handwritten by Chopin once, right? It was in one of the Writing Workshops I attended as a teenager. A historian brought one from her private collection and I was shocked when she let me hold it in my hands. You may laugh, but in that moment I thought that no one had trusted me with something so important before. I still feel humbled and honoured whenever I think about it.

Ahem, well, let’s get to the most important part in a notebook: what’s inside.

Of course, there’s always a lot of ideas and worldbuilding for the long fantasy story, so no need to keep telling you that. What I find interesting is there’s always something I’d forgotten I’d written. In my previous notebook, the new stories I found weren’t worth your time, but in this one I saw a couple I haven’t dismissed completely yet.

One of them looked like fun, but I didn’t know where it was going. At first I thought it was related to a fantasy story I had, but I’m not sure now.

Then there was a long outline for a thing I restarted in a different notebook (my current notebook), so I haven’t transcribed that one yet. I feel a bit like cheating because it took a quarter of the notebook, but I’m not going to write an outline 4 times.

I also found some notes I took during one of my research trips and a couple of weird dreams I’d forgotten about, so it was quite fun.

Seventh Notebook

A dark green notebook with the Google logo.

This small notebook was a present from a friend who lives in Ireland.

As mentioned in my previous notebook post, it contains some drafts for my blog in Spanish. Since I had already posted those, transcribing the notebook didn’t take as long as it could have. I was aiming to finish by the end of June, but you can see I’ve finished much earlier.

In this notebook there were some unexpected snippets. For instance, I had no memory of writing an outline for a gay retelling of Pride & Prejudice. And I’m always doubting and second-guessing myself, but for the first time I’ve felt 100% sure about something: I don’t think it’s worth writing. The main conflict was Darcy not accepting his sexuality, and… nope, I don’t want to do that. But because one may be able to use parts and pieces of unusable writing for something else in the future, I’ve transcribed all of it.

I had also written down a couple of dreams I’d forgotten all about. It was interesting, because they came back to my mind as I was transcribing what I’d written down so long ago. Reminded me of a dream diary I used to keep when I was a teenage.

I also had some notes about my trip to England… which was ages ago, now I realize.

In any case, I had lots of scenes for stories I’ve already mentioned, and these three new stories that I’m not going to start with. I’m looking forward to the next notebook, which I used during 2017, because it must have some new ideas.

Sixth Notebook

Small notebook with an embellished cover that depicts the illustrated letter "The Song of Songs which is Solomon's" by Rudyard Kipling.

One of my small paperblanks from the embellished manuscripts collection. Among its pages I found maps, dead flowers, and lots of ideas for my long fantasy story (including some notes about linguistics).

A friend of mine helped me choose this notebook so I would want to focus more on my Thesis (Rudyard Kipling was mentioned in it). Judging by the amount of academic work I’ve found in this notebook… it only worked towards the end (but it did work!). Of course, given that I’m now writing for myself only, I can say that it’s a good thing I spent so much time plotting stories instead.

This is the third of my four 2016 notebooks, and I only discovered it came before the last one because here I chose the name of my blog in Spanish, while the next one had some blog posts already.

2016 must have been a fruitful year creativity-wise. This notebook is full of short snippets for a variety of projects I don’t even remember now. I’ve been trying to make sense of everything, but it’s impossible to know at this point whether I’m doing it the way I intended. Maybe it’s for the best, because now I can see errors and tropes I couldn’t have noticed at the time.