Tag Archives: writing

Writing Wednesday – Modern Fantasy World Building Prompts

1This week’s “Writing Wednesday” was inspired by my recent rewatch of “The 10th Kingdom”. It got me thinking of a few fun modern fantasy ideas, and since I’m in a sharing mood, I decided to pass them along to you!

If you see one you like and would like to use, please feel free to. If you come up with some, add them in the comments below, and I’ll put them on the list.

  • City witches who use their mirrored phones, or just blank phone screens, as a scurrying mirrors.
  • Witches under 21 carving new paths of magic, and laughing when their elders are confused at how they made new spells with technology. Alternatively, witches over 50 watching the new generations and shaking their heads, but also are secretly proud of their new students ingenuity.
  • Vampires or orcs who post make up tutorials on YouTube to make themselves look more human.
  • Witches who sell glamore spells at Ulta.
  • Apartments that include “Brownie Clauses”, where tenants have to agree to leave offerings out because they’re the ones who fix anything needing repairs.
  • Necromancers who own law firms that specialize in wills needing to be clarified by the recently deceased.
  • Magic users who can’t have a garden going to Whole Foods for fresh herbs and chatting with others to find what spell works best.
  • Mermaids who live in city lakes and curse anyone who pollutes it. City gets known for having the cleanest park in town because everyone’s too scared to throw trash in it.
  • Benevolent Jinns helping children soldiers and kidnapped women escape their captors.
  • Werewolves who have to play in dog parks because it’s the only place in the city where dogs are allowed off leash.
  • Changelings finding out they’re fairies and staying with their human family and use their new magic to help make their lives easier.
  • Dryad funerals held by city fae when a plot of land is turned into a parking lot.
  • Leprechauns who change with the times and instead of collecting gold, collect bit coins, own credit card companies, and who know how to manipulate the stock market.
  • Fire Salamanders that live in furnaces of major metal manufacturing companies, helping keep core temperatures stable.
  • Yakshas that hold support groups for people struggling with bipolar disorders.
  • Pixies that break or change road signs to get people lost.
  • Ogres who own their own bodyguard business. They protect anyone who’s willing to pay them, so long as they get to eat anyone who attacks their employer.
  • Huldrefolk trolls that make underground houses, only problem is if you’re an annoying client your house will have problems throughout your stay there.
  • Goblins that sit in underground bars, smoking and drinking all while making bets with humans and swindling them out of their money.
  • Gargoyles that have learned the hymns of their churches and sing them at night to the homeless who come seeking shelter.

 

I could go on, but this is getting to be a long list. Let me know if you’d like to see something like this again in the future. I’m sure I could come up with more.

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Little Known American Folklore Writers Should Use

Welcome yet again to another Writers’ Wednesday. Time to talk about something I love, American folklore.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you probably already know this, but for those of you who are new, the older I get the more I want to know about folklore and fantasy of North America.

From common ghost stories to murderous monsters that lurk in back woods, chances are you’ve probably read a book inspired by the urban legends of North America. If you haven’t read a book, you’ve at the very least seen things on film.

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Here are just a few that came to mind that featured folklore and fantasy of North America

As many as folklore inspired pieces of work as there are out there, there are some that don’t get nearly enough love. Here are some that are definitely neglected and should fuel writers in future novels.

Xunaan & The Young Warrior – Mexico
It’s a story of love and a mother keeping a couple apart. There are so many ways this could be interpreted and reinvented. I’d love for more people to know about this story, and even put a twist in it where Xunaan saves herself.

Black Dog of Hanging Hills – USA
Most people, especially readers, can tell you black dogs are bad omens. Usually monsters and signaling death, the black dog in Hanging Hills Connecticut is smaller than its British Isles cousins and much more relaxed. In fact it has it’s own little saying by New York geologist W.H.C. Pynchon. “If you meet the Black Dog once, it shall be for joy; if twice, it shall be for sorrow; and the third time shall bring death.”

Michigan Dogman & Beast of Bray Road – USA
A sort of twist on the werewolf myth, these American dog monsters are known to scare livestock to death, terrorize locals, and have a man like scream. While werewolves in the Bayou are fairly well known, these two wolf like monsters rarely make an appearance in urban fantasy.

El Muerto – Mexico/USA
I included Mexico because there were a few conflicting stories as far as where this story is more prominent, but it appears to have popped up around south Texas. While everyone is fairly familiar with the Headless Horseman, no one ever mentions El Muerto. El Muerto was once a hispanic man, and after being accused of theft, his head was removed by another folklore legend, “Big Foot” Wallace. Not only was his punishment to have his head removed, but Wallace tied his body to his horse, hung his head and hat from his saddle and let the horse loose on the countryside. When they finally caught the horse, the body had been riddled with bullets and arrows from locals and tribes that saw the body pass. They buried him in an unmarked grave, and he still haunts south Texas to this day, due to how horrendous his punishment had been.

You can tell I really love this story. I could go on about it forever.

 

Folklore Creatures in Groups Worth Mentioning –

Little People of the Cherokee – Cherokee Nation
When I first heard about these, the person who showed me explained them as “American fairies”. The more I read about them, the more I went, WHY don’t more stories feature these incredible little people? Too many stories only rely on the fairies found in Irish/Scottish lore, when really there are a numerous of them across the globe. I’d love to see a book one day where the Cherokee little people just look at the fae from across the ocean and go HA. You think YOU have it bad?

American Witches & Their Curses – Across the United States but mostly the Ozarks
Why does every witch in every urban fantasy do high magic? Why don’t we have more witches who poison livestock, or spoil milk? Heck, you can even make this more modern and say American witches know how to turn gas to water in a car, or who can cut out wifi with a witch bag buried in the person’s back yard. They don’t rely on athames and wands, but roots and bones. Give me gritty witches! Give me more American Folklore witches with old and dark powers who follow their own moral compasses! Give me American witches!

 

Of course, there are thousands more, but these are just a few I have tucked away. Have one you want to add to the list? Comment below, let me know! Want more folklore? Check out Folklore Thursday on Twitter.

Writer on the Road: Help me pick a plot! – Day 5

 

Almost done with my trip! I have one more day left on the road before we reach our destination, so today, I’m going to do a quick run down of plots I was working on while driving. If you see one that you like that you’d like me to elaborate on, please comment below! I’m looking for a plot to turn into a Wattpad project, so I could use some help with picking what sounds the most interesting.

 

  • Hades x Persephone – Romance –  I like the idea that Persephone didn’t get kidnapped, she ran away. That she was already in love with Hades and the two decided to run from Demeter, and Persephone only returned when she saw her mother was going to kill the Earth. I’d love to go into just how Hades and Persephone met and fell in love, and came up with a full novel for this retelling.

  • Medusa – Revenge Plot – I hate the hand Medusa was given. She was raped, turned away by her goddess, and then was killed and used even in her death. I’d like to give Medusa a more fitting end. She asks Athena to turn her into a gorgon to get back at those who wronged her, and kills whoever comes to kill her because she found her power in her pain.

  • Misery in Magic (possible title) – Urban Fantasy – Basically, this is an urban fantasy novel about an arranged marriage between two magic users from high standing families. Unlike the typical “forced wedding” romance plot, this one is more about how they have to work together to over come someone who uses magic to harm humans. It’ll have more of a “slow burn” romantic subplot, and really focuses more on the blurred lines between good and evil.

  • Salvation (possible title) – Supernatural Detective – Out of all the ones I’ve been toying with on my drive, this one is the most under developed. I have a demon. He goes on road trips. He’s got a priest with him that’s damned to hell that’s trying to redeem himself. That’s about it. Maybe it’ll be something like Clive Barker’s work mixed with a bit of Supernatural, but I really like the characters that came to mind while driving, so I’d like to have the in their own story

  • Modern Cinderella – Coffee Shop Romance- Yes. It’s been done. Yes. I know we don’t need another Cinderella story, but I want a story that follows the version where the prince and his friend switch places for the night. And I want it in a modern setting. Call me crazy, but I love this idea, and I think it’d make for a fun quick enjoyable read.

  • Forged in Fire (possible title) – Traveling High Fantasy – This one is one I’ve actually drawn out a character for a while ago, but I’m only just now trying to decide a solid plot. Basically, I have a high fantasy world where a knight is on the run, and comes into contact with a woman who does folk magic. She agrees to help him get his honor back, but for a price. It’d be pretty heavily inspired by Ladyhawk and Willow, since I’m a sucker for 80’s fantasy.
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Here’s the sketch of the knight character, Dawson.
  • Multiple Species High Fantasy – Escape High Fantasy – This one would have a lot more magic and different species compared to the one before it. It’s inspired by the worlds of Dragon Age, Witcher and Lord of the Rings, and would be a little heavier on the world building than the one I mentioned above. Out of all my ideas, this one is my least likely to pick, just because it’s a really big project, but hey, if you think you want to read a heavy high fantasy, let me know.

 

 

Which idea sounds like a fun, no pressure story that you’d like to read for free?

 

Writer on the Road – Day 4

We’re back in civilization tonight and had Whataburger for dinner for the first time in almost 6 months. For those of you who know what that is, you know how fantastic I found my meal after being away from it for so long.

We left Utah today and made it into New Mexico. With only two days of driving left, I spent a lot of time today thinking about writing and what I want for my life. 

When I first started writing, I had no intention of ever being published. I liked to write because it helped me escape from reality but it wasn’t what I wanted to be when I grew up. I shared with my friends, and while they enjoyed it, I never thought I’d one day try to sell my work. 

I kept up the work, even when I didn’t think I’d make it a career, until about three years ago I realized it’s what I want to do with my life. That being said, I’ve never been published. I’m not writing to pay the bills yet, I’m writing still out of passion, so I don’t have to worry yet about the career side of the writing world. 

As I realized this, I had to ask myself, do I really want a career as a writer? Do I want the work as well as the play? Why not just be a hobbiest, why do I want to be recognized as an author?

Being a hobbiest and being a professional are two totally different animals. There’s nothing wrong with either of these, but it’s important to be honest with yourself. 
Everyone has to answer that question to themselves. For me, I decided on day four of my drive that I wanted to be a writer, not because of the romance, but because I like the work. I like the hours bent over a manuscript. I love the feeling of starting a new idea. And as much as I complain, I even enjoy the editing. 

Work isn’t some four letter word to me as so many creative types make it out to be. It’s something I find myself embracing. Writing is as much of a career choice as it is a way to share my love of stories with others, and that’s why I’m perusing a job as a writer.

It was a nice realization and it’s fueling my fire as I keep on writing this November. I love the work that gets put into books, and I can’t wait to jump into the career side.

I don’t know why you write, but please let me be clear. Everyone’s reason is a valid one. If you want a career as a professional writer, you go after it with all the fire you’ve got. Everyone has their drive, tell me yours below and let’s share the love of the job! 

Writer on the Road – Day 3

There’s something about dying desert towns that makes me anxious. I drove through the small town of Green River, Utah tonight. As the sun went down at my back, the moon bleached out the buildings as I looked for my hotel.

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If you ever travel to Green River, you’ll notice one side of the street is lined with gaudy, half working neon lights, the other is long dead and empty. If you go on a full moon, the cold light will make the husks of closed motels and empty gas stations look haunted. \

When I finally made it over the river and looked back at the city behind me, I can’t tell if my imagination is running away with me, or if there really are figures moving on the plateau outlined in the setting sun.

It was unsettling to say the least.

But I learned some very important writing lessons today. One, every place you drive through can be inspiring enough to write a little overly flowery blog post, and two learn how to manage your time.

If you caught last night’s blog post, you’ll know I was having trouble at my last hotel with the wifi, and this night started out exactly the same. I downloaded my files to my phone, and managed to start last night’s words, even if I didn’t meet what I was originally hoping for. The funny thing is, I had net at one point, but thought “I can always finish this later, I want to screw around online right now”. I made plans for a later time, but that later time turned out to be problematic.

So here’s tonight lesson. If you want to write a book, start to notice when you’re wasting time, because you might not get it even if you plan for it. Even if you’re a night writer, if you get an hour in the morning, write in the morning. Worse case scenario, you get a little bit of work done, and you still have that night to write. Best case scenario, you lose that time, and you’re already done.

It should be an easy lesson to learn, but I’m still trying to figure out how to do this sort of thing. Maybe this trip will make it skip this time.

Writer on the Road – Day 2

This is a short one today, but definitely a good lesson.

Don’t rely on wifi while traveling. If a hotel says it has free internet, don’t think “Oh perfect! I can sign in to my online storage, download all my files and get some work done.”

There’s a chance they won’t have working internet and you’ll have to get all that important writing done on your phone.
In other news, 600 words into my NaNoWriMo novel and my protagonist is now a guy, my love interest turned into a strongwilled female lawyer, and my book went from a comedy to more of a fun romance.

Oh November. You’re full of surprises. My original idea will be recycled later, so don’t worry, those of you interested in my “Gilmore Girls meets Good Omens” idea. That one will come along in the same universe but different setting.

Okay all, time for bed. Sorry my post doesn’t have any pretty pictures to go along with today’s mini lesson. Have one of my dogs in the Uhaul instead.

Hope you all had a great writing day! Adios till tomorrow.

2017 NaNoWriMo Influence Map

My NaNoWriMo novel this year is a paranormal comedy, and with it only a week away, I gathered up my inspiration to make myself an Influence Map.

As promised, here’s what’s keeping me motivated on this project!

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1. This one is a bit obscure if you don’t know The Twilight Zone, but in season 3 episode 16, I saw Death personified for the first time in pop culture. I was 10 when I first saw this episode, and it’s stuck with me all these years. While Death won’t be a huge character in my novel, I definitely love the idea of Death appearing to people in different forms, and hope to translate this as well as The Twilight Zone did.

2. I found this picture on pinterest and for whatever reason, it just cracked me up. From this picture, I started collecting others that reminded me of haunted cafes, or ghost related things. I took it and ran, and haven’t stopped since.

3. Now, I won’t be too influenced by Gravity Falls, but I do like the general feel of the show. A town with supernatural happenings that just kind of shrugs and goes with it is definitely the vibes I want to give off.

4. I’ve only seen a handful of episodes of Ghost Whisperer, but an old writing friend of mine pointed out some of my plot points reminded her of that show, so I went back and rewatched a few clips, and yeah, there are definitely a couple similarities. Not many, but enough to admit when there are common themes.

5. Buffy is one of my favorite shows of all time. I love the girl killing monsters trope, and while my main character isn’t as outgoing as Buffy, she’ll definitely be in a “Hell Mouth” situation. She’ll also be a reluctant hero type, so that’s a bit of inspiration for me as well.

6. & 7. Practical Magic and Dime Store Magic are inspiring as far as the witchcraft goes, but also because of how they portray female friendship/sisterhood. Much like Death, witches won’t have a huge part in my novel, but they’ll have enough of an impact on the plot to take some inspo for them.

8. Gilmore Girls has a bigger square because I’ll definitely be pulling some of the class division in small town life, as well as a woman trying to make her own away from her family. As I’ve been saying, this is really a paranormal book about friendships, especially positive female ones, and I really hope to be able to portray that.

9. I’ve been listening to the podcast, New World Witchery for close to 3 years now. While it’s mostly about North American magic, they have side stories revolving around folklore that I’ve always found inspiring. Their collections of ghost stories, American witchcraft, and general folklore will heavily be influencing my world building.

10. There’s a house in the small town of Steilacoom, WA that sits on a hill facing the bay. With two stories and a shade of dark mint green, when I first drove by it, I had my husband pull over so I could get a closer look. Now an office building, it’s the perfect size and layout of where I imagine MC lives and works, with a cafe in the bottom, and bedrooms on top. It’s my main setting inspiration, and I can’t wait to explain why this house turned cafe is now the pit stop for lost souls in my universe.

11. Good Omens was the first Terry Pratchett, and 3rd Neil Gaiman book I’ve ever read. I loved the snappy dialogue and hilarious idea that an angel and demon are trying to stop the apocalypse from happening. The writing style of both authors has heavily influenced my comedic work, and to say I didn’t get my character dynamics from them would be a lie.

12. As stated above Steilacoom, WA is a town a drive through or visit semi frequently. The first town in Washington, I love how cute and quiet it is, but since I’m a small town girl, I know that there’s probably some problems there that are just under the surface. Maybe there aren’t literal ghosts people are trying to hide, but I bet everyone has a few skeletons they try to keep buried. While I called my city “Stella Cove, WA”, there will definitely be some similarities between the two cities.

 

Hope you enjoyed seeing where my ideas are heading! If you’d like to make one of these influence maps, check out the link here for the download. Also, if you’re doing NaNoWriMo comment below with how you’re getting ready. What’s your story about? Have a link to share? Throw it my way!

Also, I’m looking for writing buddies, so shoot me a line on the NaNoWriMo site to team up.

Book Review #4 – The Megarothke

I was six years old when I was inexplicably allowed to watch Alien. I say inexplicably because I grew up in a strict house, where science fiction and fantasy weren’t always allowed. When I ask my mom how I was able to watch this film, and so young, she usually scoffs and says, a bit disdainfully, “Don’t look at me, your father liked that crap.”

Whatever the reason for me getting to watch Alien at such a young age, it sparked a love of science fiction horror in me. While I still watch many movies and short films in this genre, I’ve strayed from reading it. I have to admit, I haven’t picked up a book that wasn’t high/urban fantasy in years and it wasn’t until fellow writer and friend, Robert Ashcroft contacted me asking if I’d like a copy of his first book did I get back into reading sci fi horror.

And damn, after such a long drought from this genre, “The Megarothke” welcomed me home with open, bloody, mechanical arms.

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The Megarothke is set in 2048, seven years after “The Hollow Wars”, and follows Theodore “Theo” Adams as he and the last 50k people claw their way through a war with machines just to stay alive. There’s a beast lurking just below the city of Los Angeles, and the small team set out to search and destroy the Megarothke will do what it takes to save the last of humanity.

Through a series of time jumps and unsettling quotes at the beginning of each chapter, the story of how The Hollow Wars” came to be, how the world has changed and just who or what the Megarothke is, unfolds with every spine tingling chapter.

What did I love about this book?

Ashcroft’s ability to build a solid, believable world, interwoven with a complex timeline is well above par. He doesn’t waste time going into too much depth, or leaving things out, and avoids flowery language to try and get some of his more complex ideas across. Not only does this make the reader fall into the world of The Megarothke, but it makes it easy to relate to Theo. While Theo is intelligent, he’s an average guy and he explains things as such. This trait also creates a great conflict later, when you’re introduced to his wife, and you get an amazing clash between characters.

I also enjoy how believable everything is. It’s not too much of a stretch to see certain aspects of Ashcroft’s world coming to pass, and since I’m a firm believer in “science fiction could one day become science fact”, it’s an unsettling black mirror held up to today’s society. There’s a fine line between too much technology and just the right amount, and Ashcroft makes the reader ask “How far is too far?” And let me be clear to note here, I don’t mean when it comes to a more accepting transworld, as there are several trans characters in this novel, but the use of technology until it swallows everything that makes us human.

Ashcroft’s military and philosophy knowledge also extremely evident. There isn’t one scene that makes me go “Wait a second, how real is that?”. It’s evident he’s a man with a military background, as well as being someone who knows what their talking about when it comes to philosophy.

Lastly, I loved the dark humor salt and peppered in throughout the novel. I even laughed outright at a few parts and scared my dog as I read this into the long hours of the night. And yes. I did in fact stay up past midnight just to read this.

What might not work for other readers?

While I don’t mind a story that starts at one point and then jumps back a few years, I know a few readers who have a problem with this form of storytelling. I think Ashcroft handled his timeline beautifully, and if people who don’t like “7 years earlier” trope can get over this, they’ll have a great time.

Overall Rating?

I would most definitely buy this book in hard back, and go out of my way to get it signed.

 

You’ll like The Megarothke if…

you’re fans Robopocalypse, by Daniel H. Wilson, Westworld, Blade Runner/it’s source material Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Black Mirror, or if you enjoy the of the work that comes out of Oats Studios (in fact, I’d be the biggest supporter if they made a film adaptation of this with Ashcroft).

Keep your eye out for this fantastic novel, coming out in February 2018. You’ll be up all night just to try and finish this refreshing addition to the Science Fiction genre.

Finding Time to Write

As I hammer through some suggested edits, I’ve been talking more with others about writing and the most common thing I hear is “I could write a book, if only I had the time!”

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Truth be told, I didn’t and still don’t have enough time. When I finished my manuscript for Flightless, I was in the middle of a military move, driving an hour and a half every for work every day, and trying to cram in as much family time before I left Texas. It’s a year later, and I’m trying to get through ANOTHER military move (this time mostly by myself because of my husband’s work schedule), finish my last month at my job, and still sight see around the Pacific Northwest. I was supposed to be here for another two years, and instead, I have a month left.

All that being said, I still believe in making time to write. So where do I make time, and how can you?

Lunch breaks –
I get a thirty minute lunch break, and 20 of those minutes are spent working on my book. It might not be my longest writing time, but it’s 20 minutes I can spend getting work done.

Wake up early –
I don’t do this one often, just because I’m a night owl, but sometimes if I’m feeling up to it, working on editing is the first thing I do.

While cooking dinner –
Most of my dinners are made one of two ways. Out of a box or time consuming with lots of prep. Either way I have to wait while it’s in the oven, so instead of doing chores, I write. Sure my house doesn’t stay ridiculously clean, but it gets the job done.

When someone else is driving – 
My husband usually is the one who drives when we’re traveling around together, so I take that time it takes to get from point A to point B to hammer out a few hundred words. Even if it’s just a trip to the store, and I’m jotting down ideas and changes on my phone, it still helps.

At night –
This is my favorite time to write. Everyone’s asleep, no one’s asking anything from me, and I can get a lot hammered out.

How do you make time?

Start to notice when you’re wasting it. Did you binge watch an entire season of whatever newest thing came out recently? Do you really think some of those episodes couldn’t have waited while you worked on one chapter?

If you’re really not sure how to make time, start writing an hour by hour list of things you did in a day and find out where there’s some wiggle room. This is what helps me every once in a while when I start to fall off the tracks. Not only does it show where your writing time is, but it also shows how much you spend on things that might not be as important as that book you want to write.

One last thing. Don’t write in a room with a TV, and shut off the internet.

For those of you who know how to work a tv/internet connection without getting distracted, bravo! For the rest of us? TURN IT OFF. Find ten minutes at a minimum and try to write as much as you can with everything shut down. Music is fine, but try to play it without needing the internet.

 

How Artists Can Promote Your Book

Jessica Ingold recently put out a tweet asking for “new and different ways to promote her books”. It got me thinking about a way authors occasionally overlook that would help not only themselves but other artists as well.

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I don’t make it a secret that I love to draw. In fact, I have an Instagram and a Deviant Art dedicated to building my writer’s platform through art. One thing I’ve found, however, is that the best way to promote myself isn’t to plaster up ads on Facebook or spam my twitter followers with automatic messages. It’s to get other artists involved in my work.

Here are two ways to create healthy relationships with artists to help promote your work.

1. Have a contest.

One of the first ways I got my writing on the radar was to hold a contest. I put up 7 scenes, between 3 and 5 pages each, from different short stories, one offs, and the novel I was working on and asked artists to draw what they interpreted from the passages. What I wound up getting was not only people reading my work, but also artists posting up artwork of the pieces that linked back to my page.

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This was done by Kennie (bootyfeathers) who enjoyed the drawings I posted along with short stories so much, they started doing fan art. We’ve stayed in contact over the years, and they’re someone I hold near and dear to my heart as an artist.

2. Hire Artists

If you have the money, this is the fastest way to get artwork. Many artists will put up some information about what they’re drawing, or what the story’s about for their fans to get some extra information about what they’re looking at, so feel free to ask for them to link back to your website, amazon, or any social media.

You can also hire artists to design characters for you to use in stories or novels. When people see a character design, they usually begin to wonder “What’s the story with this person?” That being said, some don’t like their artwork being used for momentary gain, other’s don’t care, so be sure to ask your artist when hiring if you’re going to use the character in a book /short story you plan on submitting for money.

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I met Madisen (Inkyness) through art as well. She’s done some great work for me, both as gifts, but also as commissions.

 

Here’s a big “don’t list” when it comes to working with artists.

  • Don’t offer them publicity as payment. Publicity doesn’t pay bills or put food in your stomach.
  • Don’t ask for artwork for free. It’s insulting. You wouldn’t write a whole book for someone for free just cause they wanted it would you?
  • Don’t offer payment when you “hit it big”. That could take years, and artists don’t want to wait around for that to happen.
  • Don’t hire artists you know nothing about, check reviews for artist. I paid fifty bucks one time for a character design and the person vanished. I’m still a little stung over this.
  • Don’t use their artwork for unintended purposes. Many artists have copyrights, so be sure you’re following them if you post the artwork elsewhere, or want to use it in promotional items.

Hope that opens some doors for you as far as hiring artists and looking for promotion!