Diverse character art for fantasy novels (character description cheatsheet)

Recently I’ve started playing with midjourney to make character art, so I thought I’d share them. These are what some of my characters look in, in fantasy series ranging from fae, vampires, fallen angels and greek mythology.

AI art doesn’t quite get the faces, hands or weapons right – if I wanted to use these for real, I’d need to photoshop several together, which is why I have so many nearly duplicates of different characters, so I can blend layers and pieces together in one composite.

These images are made from descriptions of my fantasy characters; you can’t use them commercially for your own work (please don’t steal) but you can look at them for inspiration; to help describing your own characters. I also hope you’ll share them on Pinterest or wherever, especially because I’d like there to be more dark skinned, ethnic or black/POC fantasy character art out there as a reference point (one of the great thing about AI image generators may be that more diverse fantasy concept art gets made, for example like these black mermaid illustrations).

If you like these characters and want to get to know them better, I hope you’ll check out my books!

Tomb of Vampires: Fantasy Novel (complete series)

I started writing fiction about 5 years ago, and while I’ve gone through bouts of productivity which included getting this website up and running, I’ve also let months pass of disuse and neglect. I realized that I’m not actually all that great at finishing the creative projects I started, though an ADHD diagnosis has helped with that a little.

But also because, you know, writing books is hard. However I’m half through edits in book four of my vampire dystopian series. The earlier, first books, I wrote quickly just to see if I could actually write fiction well enough for people to enjoy it. And book one (Taste of vampire), thankfully, has over 200 reviews.



But I’ve always wanted each book, each sequel, to be my best, and so naturally I had some reservations about completing and entire project and being *done* with everything. That said, things are coming along well. I actually split what should have been book3 into two parts, so book 3 currently feeling imbalanced to me – slower – and book4 might feel a little faster (all the events leading up into the final conflict).


Once I refresh my blog I’ll probably try to keep it better updated, and once my series are done I’ll make everything more organized and easier to find. Hopefully. But for now, here’s a little excerpt at the concept art I might use to rebrand the boxset or whole series. I still like the many variations I’ve used earlier, but will need to have a core design for this series now that it’s done.


We rode in silence for another hour, before I finally saw the intersection to the king’s road. It was familiar to me, and a flutter kicked up in my stomach as I recognized it. It had been so long since I’d seen anything familiar.

But I’d never been here at dusk, with a band of rebels and a carriage full of elixir. We followed the road, which seemed so quiet the hoofbeats echoed off the tree trunks, until the sun had set, then pulled up to rest and feed the horses.

“So does he have an alarm clock in there or—” Trevor said, jerking his thumb towards the carriage.

“I’ll wake him,” I said. Though really, I had no idea how to do that. I squeezed past Camina as she got out of the carriage, then closed the door. I’m not sure why I needed the privacy, but I felt like I was creeping into someone’s bedroom. I waited a few moments, my hand on top of the coffin. Waiting to see if I felt any movements. I even put my ear to the flat wooden top, listening for breaths, or a heartbeat. But it was quiet, and I felt foolish. So eventually I just knocked.

“Yes?” Damien’s voice came back, so close and so quickly I jumped backwards.

“We’re here,” I stammered. “I mean, it’s dark.”

I leaned back enough for him to unlatch the casket and raise the wooden lid. It was a fine piece, rimmed with silk.

“Sleep well?” I asked.

“Sleeping in someone else’s coffin is not pleasant,” he said. “Actually, sleeping in a coffin at all is pretty restrictive. But they’re effective. I am rested. And I love to see you when I wake up.”

“Can you see me?” I asked, realizing how dark it was with the windows shuddered and the door closed. I could barely make out his pale face, his eyes gleaming in the darkness.

“I can see you,” he purred, leaning forward. “Your chin, your lips, your nose, your eyelids…” I felt a flush rise through me.

“Should we, do you need to feed?” I asked.

“Better not,” he said, sitting up and crouching in the carriage. “You need your strength. Do you mind?” He pulled a flask out of his jacket pocket. I shook my head no and he took a long draught, tilting his head back[DM3] . He licked his lips, then wiped them with the back of his sleeve. I could taste blood when I kissed him. Then he nodded at me to open the door.

Damien got out and stretched, looking around. The others filled him in on what we’d seen. He glanced at me, studying my face, but I kept it neutral.

“I would have liked to be farther ahead by now,” he said. “Let’s keep moving.”

Damien kept up a brisk pace, nearly racing the horses down the road. We didn’t stop again until we’d found the turnoff, for the intersection that cut across towards Denvato.

This time, Damien showed Trevor and Luke how to lift the swiveling section of the fence to open a passageway for the carriage. The road was barely a trail, covered in dirt and ash, for several miles, but Damien seemed to know where he was going. When he found an obstacle, hand me the reins, and fly off the carriage to clear the debris. He’d be back again moments later, sometimes without even stopping the horses.

But then we crossed over to an old highway, cutting through forests and valleys, until everything started to blur and I fell asleep again. I woke up suddenly hours later, realizing that we’d stopped. The others were huddled in a circle not far away. Something was wrong. I heard it a moment later, a sound that sent shivers down my spine. A long howl in the distance, and another, a little closer, on the other side of us.

I jumped down to the carriage to join the others.

“We’re being hunted,” Trevor said.

“I heard,” I nodded. “So should we hurry?”

“We can’t outrun slagpaw,” Damien said.


PS If you haven’t read books 1~3 yet, they are available!


See also: Best vampire novels of all time.

Best YA fantasy authors that I love

Today I had a book promotion that got me to #1 in a few categories, and I adore metaphorically rubbing shoulders with other bestselling authors in my genre – so I wanted to chronicle the moment by listing some of my favorite authors (and people) who write in similar genres. If you like my books, or YA fantasy in genre, make sure you read these!

#1 Sylvia Mercedes

Info coming soon!

#2 Michelle Madow

Info coming soon!

#3 Elisa S. Amore

Info coming soon!

#4 Laura Thalassa

#5 Kelly St Clare

#6 Melissa Haag

#7Alexandra Bracken

#8 Wendy Higgins

#9 Eva Pohler

#10 Raye Wagner

#11 Shannon Mayer

#12 Leia Stone

#13 Jaymin Eve

#14 Jane Washington

PS – why these authors? They all write in YA fantasy, with a mythological feeling or background (stories based on folklore) with rich worlds and deep character building. Most of them I’ve met in person, and their writing inspired me when I was just getting started.

Honorable mentions: K.F. Breene, Laini Taylor, Lucia Ashta, Jen L. Grey, Leigh Bardugo, A.L. Knorr, Alisha Klapheke, Chandelle LaVaun

Best books on writing (improve your craft)

Recently I made a big list of 25 best books on writing for authors who want to improve their craft but in case you missed it, here are the highlights.

Firstly – “how to write a book” isn’t the problem, it’s too big and too vague. What you really need to focus on, is how to tell a story readers want to read. That’s a genre consideration, not a marketing one.

Read nobody wants to read your shit or perennial seller or story grid to get your head around that.

Then, you need a story, which begins with plot. You can try writing a character based, drama only story but it might be a mess – in the beginning, a plotting structure will help you brainstorm ideas faster and make sure your momentum and pacing is tight. Start with the plot dot or plot perfect.

You can also grab my 25-chapter fiction plot outline templates.

Then finally, you need to get better at the craft of writing – but this probably isn’t what you think. Most authors can already string together purple prose and flowery description, but master comes from information management.

How and when you parse out critical information is important to avoid backstory, TMI, boring infodumps and lack of conflict, tension and suspense. I have some tricks for that in my new mammoth of a book writing guide.

Don’t worry about the writing – focus on the story elements. In most cases, the best way to improve is simply to avoid all the bad, amateur writing problems that crop up for most authors. I made a massive checklist of first-chapter problems and posted it to www.writethemagic.com – so check there, or this older article on self-editing your book.





 

Living and writing in a derelict French chateau