Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A little scene from Oculus

So, this Labor Day weekend, I sent off my completely finished sequel to Deron at Double Dragon, and he says he'll probably publish it about the same time my book was done last year (so spring of 2013). That's really cool. I have to say, this book took A LOT out of me. I've been fighting with it for over two years, had two extremely talented beta-readers go over it, had two editors go over it (and no Andrew, I'm sure there's a comma somewhere that's out of place, but I just don't care), and I went over it myself about a DOZEN times. You know, birthing a sequel is hard as sh*t. I don't know how some people seem to do it so easily.

Oculus is also bigger than Slipstream. It has more meat to it, and I introduce a wide variety of characters so that when I sink into the lowest levels of depravity (as I am prone to do), then I have lots of fictional people I can torture and make do deplorable things.

So for some reason, my "artistic" bug hit me this weekend. See, I used to fancy myself an artist, but I realized that I suck so I gave up on my dreams of doing it professionally years ago. But that doesn't stop me from dabbling with coloring pencil every now and then.

So I drew a scene from Oculus that stars Brianna (a mysterious Watcher character--yes that's a religious reference) and a more mature Jordan. The scene is provided for you as a reference to the picture that I drew:
They both picked up a radiation badge from the control room operator. Jordan knew him only as Harvey. Then she followed him into the room where she took a seat next to him in front of a bank of computer screens. Jordan waited for the go ahead and fired the synchrotron at a previously prepared ice sample and awaited the data.

“How do you prepare the samples?” she asked him.

“Dr. Wolfson had a bunch already completed,” he said. “But she did walk me through how to do it on my own. Basically, ice samples are decontaminated by three repeated washings in ultrapure water. The first step involves taking a sample from an ice core in cold storage and melting it at room temperature. Once that’s done, you gently agitate it for homogenization and then partition it into individual vials of polystyrene Coulter accuvettes, which have all been pre-cleaned using the ultrapure water I mentioned. Dr. Wolfson told me repeated checks showed the dust concentration difference between the first and the last aliquots is typically around the level of measurement-reproducibility. That is, the aliquots provided for the different analyses should be comparable.”

He paused, watching the screen, gaze flicking from one monitor to the next. “All right, there’s the fluoroscopic data we’ve been waiting for.” He gestured with his hand. “We are looking at the insoluble elemental composition of Antarctic dust, which appears to be composed of more aluminum, less silicon, and less potassium than the previous sample that I took from a different depth. The result suggests that either the characteristics of the dust source changed at some point in history, which could mean factors as simple as soil development, or that there was a change in the relative contributions of the overall varying sources.”

“Meaning that there was an environmental change.”

He nodded in agreement. “Exactly—it’s like a portrait of earth’s history captured in time—in a single drop of water.”

“How do you know all of this without looking it up or cross-referencing the fluoroscopic data with a chart?” Brianna asked.

He glanced at her. “Well, I memorized it before I met with Dr. Wolfson so that I’d have a better chance at getting the job. The data on known fluoroscopic rates is on the university website.”

“You memorized all of the numbers?”

He nodded. “I’m not lying. Honest.”

“All right, what’s this?” She pointed at a number on the screen.

“That,” Jordan said, looking at it, “is the numerical figure associated with the element neodymium. How did I miss that?” He scribbled down the details of the water sample on a notebook.

“Why is that significant?”

He swallowed, looking up at her. “I-It’s not! I-I mean it is, but it isn’t.”

Her eyes narrowed. “You’re lying to me.” “Honest, I’m not. I-I mean the finding is significant because none of the previous samples that I’ve examined showed even the slightest traces of Nd in them, but it’s in such microscopic amounts that it’s difficult to say how it got in the ice.”
I did the picture using coloring pencil and finished it in Adobe Photoshop. Basically, imagine yourself looking out at them through a computer screen (the words are printed on in front of Jordan). I aged him some from my other pic I did of him because he's now a college student. Brianna is a junior so I wanted her to look a little older. They say: "Neodymium Detected, Ice Core Sample 111, Origin Dome A: Antarctica.

Features I put in the picture:
1) Antarctica, because that's becoming increasingly important to the story.
2) The name of the particle collider, "C.H.E.S.S." is on the wall.
3) Jordan's red "Cornell Hockey" hat is a powerful symbol in the book, and he wears it everywhere. He plays hockey on the University team. Plus, I thought Jordan looks good in red so I put him in a red checkerboard shirt. Also red (blood) is another powerful symbol. Green was more important in the first book.

Anyway, sorry for the long post. If you like my drawing, you can Pin it or whatever. There's no fear of copyright since I own it, and I say you can use it. Have a great Tuesday.


  1. Congratulations on sending in Oculus! And I think your art is great! My art consists of stick figures, unfortunately.

  2. Awesome artwork Michael. Your excerpt reminded me of a friend of mine years ago who spent a few weeks in Antarctica doing conservation research. Anyway, congrats on finishing the sequel. I've always heard sequels to be difficult because of the pressure and expectations behind them. But it sounds like you've done great and I can't wait to read it. Also sounds like you need a break.

  3. SWEET! Gettin' all arty!

  4. Wow! The drawing is awesome. I had no idea you were an artist. Congrats on getting your manuscript off. You're one talented guy.

  5. I can draw Spongebob. Not too difficult because he's square. Great drawing and congratulations on finishing another novel!!!

  6. I think it's interesting how you worked different elements into your drawing. And congrats on finishing the sequel.

  7. Damn. Your dabbling is really good. You should keep dabbling.

    You got loads of talent!

  8. I'm probably going to have to read Slipstream again before Oculus comes out or I'm sure I'll have no idea what the hell is going on most of the time, though that might be the case anyway.

  9. Contrary to popular belief, I don't mind the occasional comma mistake. It only bothers me when it's a repetitive error.

    Nice drawing!

  10. BTW, now that you've turned in your sequel I can send you a bunch more stuff to read, right?

  11. I recall you saying that you were an artist so it's fun to finally see some of your work. You have a very conceptual eye. Nicely done.

  12. @L.G.: Thanks for the compliment. I try with my coloring pencils, but I just don't have enough natural talent I think.

    @Elise: Thank you Elise. I'm reading a book on Antarctica at present.

    @Dalya: LOL yeah. You are my inspiration.

    @Moody: Thank you.

    @Alex: LOL Yeah.

    @Em-Musing: I'm not a "real" artist. I'm just a play one.

    @Tonja: I think Spongebob would make a great Halloween costume.

    @Cindy: I wanted to put symbolism in it.

    @Jay: Thank you sir.

    @P.T.: NO. But I'll read your books as you publish them. You need a better beta reader than me.

  13. Like you, I wonder how some writers manage to put out so many books in a short space to time. I write quickly, but the editing takes ages to complete.

    What did I get out of the excerpt. Jordan is mega-bright.

  14. Ha ha, like I have beta readers just lining up for me.

  15. Oh please, you are a solid artist. My own talent at drawing just plain stopped in 9th grade.

    I am so happy you've finished Oculus! And yes, I know just what it's like to wrestle a manuscript to the mat a dozen times. I always think I'm finished. Then I go back and change things 'cause I'm crazy and neurotic. But since you have a good gut feeling about your book then it's ready to be launched. Congratulations!

  16. I so wish I could draw the scenes from my stories I see in my head. I mean I could, but they'd basically be stick figures. Very cool perspective there.

    And congrats on turning in Oculus. Now get busy on the third book. Ha! :)

  17. Congrats!! I can't wait to read Oculus.

    And if you suck at drawing, you don't EVER want to see my attempt at drawing. It might make you jump off a cliff.

  18. @Stephen: Thank you

    @Helena: You always cheer me up. My insecure post for tomorrow is going to be about my lack of confidence in anything.

    @L.G.: It is kind of liberating.

    @Charity: Awwh...you're awesome, lady.

  19. Congratulations! It's so huge to finish a book. (Especially truly done, beta and editing and all that)

  20. Whoa, awesome picture (and awesome scene that laid the background for it)! You've got serious drawing/computer imagery talent :)

  21. If you're not an artist, I'm not a living, breathing, human being (most days, anyway). That is incredible.

    Funny thing for me, about sequels. I wrote my first full length book 'Far Away Eyes' and it stinks. Really needs to be completely rewritten, but before I truly realized that, I wrote the sequel. Now, the sequel is really pretty good. So, I'm stuck having to rewrite the first book, if I ever want the second to see the light of day. Sheesh! Sometimes this carp is hard. You make it look easy.

  22. I LOVE the pic! I think it's awesome and you totes have tons of talent! I wish i could draw scenes from my novels and junk. Sadface

  23. Your drawings are amazing. Love the details you put into them. If that had been Kolin sitting next to him I'd say this is a perfect cover for Occulus.

    Congrats on getting the book to the editor. Sometimes, you just gotta call it good and send it on its way. I can't wait to see the final product.


  24. @amberlin: Thanks dear!

    @Jess: Thanks :)

    @Faraway: Eeep...get that first book done!

    @Sarah: Thank you.

    @Donna: Oh I would never do the cover for my book. I appreciate the compliment but the drawing isn't good enough for a book which is why I say my drawing is very amateur. Go and look at the cover for Amanda Hocking's "Wake". That's what a real artist can do. You can clearly tell that I have done this in coloring pencil. I just don't have the skill to push my art to the next level. So everything I do is sketchy and comic book (cartoony).

  25. Wow! That picture is completely awesome! And yay for sending in OCULUS!

  26. 1. This made me laugh - "and no Andrew, I'm sure there's a comma somewhere that's out of place, but I just don't care" - But it's true that sometimes you've worked on a piece so long that you just don't care anymore about the little things. (Although I'm going to get grief about every missing Oxford comma for the rest of my life, especially if my piece about the Oxford comma gets published.)

    2. ERMAGHERD YOU FINISHED IT!! Looking forward to reading it next year, and looking for real-life scientists doing things out of your imagination ;)

    3. You don't suck as an artist. Or if you do, you suck as an artist like I'd suck as a scientist. i.e. I'd probably actually be good at it, but not at the same level that I can be good at writing. That drawing is amazing. MOAR ART.

  27. @Cherie: I couldn't have done it without your help, Cherie.

    @Callie: Andrew docks one star for every missing comma in a book so that by the time he gets to page five, he has a one star read.

    Thanks for being excited for me :) I'm actually going to draw all the characters in Oculus. I'm gonna do Dylan and Kathy next and then maybe some of the minor characters. I want to see how they all turn out.

  28. I am astounded by your talent. Seriously. I think your artistic ability is evident in the drawing.

  29. Congrats on finishing that sequel. I'm every envious of someone like you with talent in more than one art.

  30. Damn. Fluorscoping aliquots. Cool.
    And congrats on finishing a sequel. Keep on.

  31. You're very talented... I really like the art.

  32. Very cool drawing. You're so artistic! I really want to know how much input had on the cover of Slipstream, because I LOVE it. In fact, I really want to do a Mentor post with you talking about book covers. Up for it? Send me an e-mail, please.
    erittelking at gmail dot com.

  33. Yay!! Congratulations on turning in Oculus.
    Wow, you are an artist. I couldn't do that!

  34. Ohhhh.. exciting news, Michael!

    And you're such a talent. Goodness! I love your artistic skills. And I love your high-concept writing... so fantastic. So proud/excited for all of your ventures! <3

  35. I think you'll have another hit on your hands. I like the drawing a lot.

    Tossing It Out

  36. Nice drawing! And congrats on finishing your book! :)

  37. Congratulations on finishing your sequel. And from someone who cannot draw, please stop belittling your talent. You are good.