Monday, August 28, 2023

more rounds of Midjourney - Forgotten Worlds characters - Seska

I didn't think I'd have as much trouble as I did figuring out Seska, but Midjourney wanted to keep giving me someone too young looking.

Seska has quite the personality, but as a trained Paxon special agent who embeds herself into planetary governments where she stirs up suspicions and hostilities, she has a lot of skills and wears a lot of faces. Her job was to bring down the stability of societies so the Paxons could come in as saviors, but at a cost. Those who request their help come under their control as a protectorate. Special agents know how to manipulate others and blend in. But, like Ann, Seska has an added gift because of being the result of a secret Paxon experiment in their breeding program, one that has made her more successful than most special agents.

Putting a face to her was a bit harder than I expected. I never really pictured the face of Paxon Special Agent Seska Levat (to those who know her true identity), but now I have it. One of the big problems with Midjourney is the way it wants to make women super thin. Well, that's not only unrealistic in the real world but especially wrong for Paxons who are bred to be warriors, both men and women. This image of Seska is a woman with that fuller body, although I would have preferred smaller breasts.

GHOSTS (Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds book 16) will be out around February-ish 2024 at my best guess (preferably sooner, but it depends on how writing Book 18 goes). You'll find out then what happened to her.

more rounds of Midjourney - Forgotten Worlds characters - Nik

I took a break from Midjourney yesterday to finish the latest round of edits on BENEATH THE SURFACE. It'll go through a couple more before it's done, but the major work is done. Now, it's more into subtle things and catching the little details that might have slipped past.

Today, I let myself play with Midjourney again, and it FINALLY started giving me what I wanted for Nik, the prince who prefers to be recognized as a doctor and who has the skills to be respected as such. The face isn't exactly what I'd imagine, but it's pretty darn close. You'd be amazed at the subtle changes MJ makes with each iteration. His was a tough one to pin down--I've tried on several different occasions since I started playing with MJ--along with a gray and red uniform that was anywhere near what I had in mind for his work as a medic on an Ethalian starship. Like with Ann's armor, this uniform isn't perfect but it's pretty close, maybe even better than what I could have imagined. (When I "see" my characters, it's not actually as specific as readers may think. I generally leave a lot for readers to interpret for themselves.)

Overall, I'm pretty satisfied with this, except for the eyes. It's a glassy stare like they're zoning out.

But, I have my Lord (and doctor) Ivandru Nikkolas. He has a princely charm about him, wouldn't you say?

ps--I still prefer actual artists. This AI is hard to work with and leaves a lot lacking, even as I learn to use it more effectively.

Saturday, August 26, 2023

more rounds of Midjourney - Forgotten Worlds characters - the Black Dragon (Ann)

I'm still trying to get more characters to turn out with Midjourney. This took me over an hour to get right. But this is the face of Ann nearly identical as I see her and nearly perfect in the armor she would have worn in the battle games. The worst is the phoenix head, or whatever it's supposed to be, instead of a proper dragon head that MJ put on this. It takes forever for the AI to bring all the pieces together, but it can be done!

I present to you Andretta Draksten, Captain of the Paxon Dominion battlecruiser Predator as her secret alter ego battle games persona The Black Dragon:

The problem with using this face is the near impossibility of being able to get it to match with any other design for her that I'd want to play with. I really like this, though! It is so her.

Edit: I like the background below better, but the original arm was a mess. MJ makes changes you don't want to get changes you do want at times. Very frustrating. But I Photoshopped it with the correct arm from the above image.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Playing with Midjourney - including Forgotten Worlds characters Nya and L'Ni

I signed up yesterday on Midjourney, against the advice of my artist oldest child. I finally bit the bullet and paid the pro fee so I could keep my images private. Except I'll share them here.

First off, I wish I'd had this fourteen years ago, when I released Starfire Angels, the book that really started my writing career to the point of meeting the indie requirements to join SFWA, although I've quit that organization after just a few years since it wasn't serving me.

Anyway, Midjourney gave me Elis (pronounced EE-lis, not El-lis) after all this time of wishing I could get a good picture of him. The fans back then swooned over his description. I made this promo for the series with the image Midjourney gave me:

And for Legend of the White Dragon, I managed to get princess Istaria with the white dragon, even though he should technically be a ghost:

Last of all, I started my dive into the AI with Forgotten Worlds characters. They're not quite right but as close as I could get Midjourney to give me so far. I also haven't played with all the characters yet. I think readers can figure out who these are meant to be.

(See my post from October 15, 2023 for a better rendition of Nya.)

And he looks an awful lot like Henry Cavill's Witcher, imo; but it's as close as I could get when the AI made hair grow out of a hood on the pictures that would otherwise be perfect:

Of course, I started with Nya and L'Ni. I've tried Zaer, but it comes out as an anthropomorphic cat with a tail. The cat I can live with, but she doesn't have a tail.

Unfortunately, the more iterations one does of women, the less clothes they end up wearing on Midjourney. I'm not crazy about that. 

ps--I may keep trying for a better version of Nya and L'Ni, but these are good starts.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

it happened again

Why do these things happen to me? And this was another one that it happened right in front of me, so my kid wasn't pulling a fast one on me.

Last night, I was sitting in our main room editing like a good little writer getting ready to release a new book. That's when it happened.

Let me post this picture to explain...

So here's the story... The picture of me, my parents, and brother and sisters from my wedding (blacked out for privacy like the picture of my husband and his family from our wedding, marked "in-laws") went flying in front of me. Not straight ahead or even the other direction but across the room sideways in front of our bay window kind of towards me, as marked in red with the arrow. Not even the whole frame! That picture has been hanging there over a decade, but only the frame, picture, and glass went flying. The back was left swinging on the nail. The clasps in back had been slid aside, but that back went on snugly when I put it back together, so there was no reason it should have all gone flying like it did. Besides, there's an unmovable clip on the back on the actual frame on the side towards the in-laws' picture; that clip keeps the back in place with the front frame, so you wouldn't think it would fly in the direction it did but, rather, the other direction. Also, the cardboard between the back and the picture to keep the picture tight to the glass had slid down the wall and was under the curio cabinet right beneath the back.

As you can see, I have a hidden bottle of holy water up there below the in-laws picture and also a prayer candle of our Blessed Mother almost right below my family's picture.

Here's my view when I'm sitting and working on the loveseat in the diagonal corner of that room:

I put up something innocuous on my screen to take this picture so you can get an idea of my perspective.

The picture flying off the wall happened in front of my face, although my eyes were on the computer screen so I only caught the motion from the top of my peripheral vision. 

These pictures were taken a few minutes before posting this, the day after it happened. As you can see, the glass on the picture was undamaged. It did not shatter when it landed. (I haven't moved the curio cabinet either, but I see that I need to shift it over since it's not centered. I hadn't noticed that before.)

This is as bad as the time I was sitting downstairs to watch TV and no sooner did I simply think I was too warm that the fan in front of the treadmill, about ten feet away, switched on. No one else was in that room with me then either. I had the house blessed since then and nothing else had happened until this picture flying off the wall sideways.

Either I'm going crazy, or something defended my mothers (both spiritual in the image on the candle and my real mother in the picture thrown off the wall) or just wanted my attention (and I can't discount that my kids might be doing something they shouldn't be when they're hiding out in their rooms), or that it was just the right combination of physics. However, consider that this happened at the exact time of the 55th anniversary of the death of my mother's oldest brother in Vietnam (which is 12 hours ahead, so calendar-wise, we would be recognizing it a day behind, except in this case, because it happened at the exact time and date Vietnam time of the anniversary of his death). My brother in that wedding picture was named after him and has a birthday the day before what was our uncle's birthday. So... a message to pray for him? 🤷‍♀️ Just in case, I said a rosary last night for him and our brother who passed away before I ever met my husband (the brother not in the picture, whose death anniversary is just a few days upcoming as of the date of this post). Whatever the cause of the picture flying off the back and across the room, it called my attention to pray for my deceased family members.

Whether physics were just right or it was something spiritual, prayers can only help.

I just wish these things would quit happening, although they make for some pretty good "ghost stories."

Edit: I actually said a rosary novena for the two men--my uncle and my brother--after this incident and offered up a mass for them.

Monday, August 21, 2023

Book promotional features

I'm planting these here for myself. However, these are open to everyone, so feel free to share these images and videos. I'll make more in time, but for now, this is what I have. I'll add to this as I make more media to share, but the main task is to write and edit, so making graphics and videos is squeezed in where I can.

These are available as ebooks 
and also in paperback with beautiful wrap-around covers.

This will be updated as books are added. This particular
image shows books 1-17 covers.
ps - I purposely offset these covers because they
looked too blah perfectly aligned, but I can change that to preference.

This is also available on Vimeo at

This is also available on Vimeo at

Friday, August 11, 2023

Book cover reveal... Book 17

I've been playing with cover images and made some tweaks to Book 16 after finding the right image for Book 17.

And in putting together the cover for Book 17, I had to write up a cover blurb. This one was actually pretty easy to write, but the image didn't seem right with my working title for the book, so I changed it slightly. HOMECOMING seemed more appropriate, although I'm still not sure of that. HOME was a placeholder, since Nya returns to her homeworld, but it seemed too simple. HOMECOMING is better, but I may still change it. I have time to consider that.

I had considered playing with Midjourney, but there's plenty of good art available by actual people, so I'm trying to use that rather than AI art, as long as I can find something to fit the story from stock images (and most of what I have of that is from before AI art programs became available). The image I found fits the story almost perfectly. There is a space battle in this one with a variety of ships (whatever the Shirukan remnant could get their hands on), although most of the action is inside one of the ships, which none of the ships on the image match, so that will be up to your imagination.

Without further ado, here is the cover for Book 17 of Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds:

Quite the homecoming, isn't it?

ps--I also wrote up a description for Book 17. I need to be doing that for Books 15 and 16. My brain doesn't work in order with this series. 🤦‍♀️

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

done... sort of

The main part of Book 17 is finished. I just need to figure out what I want for a stinger scene. You know I can't end these books without something to tease for the future, a sort of epilogue or transition scene for the next book or for a few books later. That's all that remains to write, but I'm going to read through this before I do that and probably even start edits on Book 15.

Often it's while editing one book that I finally come up with those elusive scenes I want in other books. My mind can never stay on the book it's supposed to be working on.

I'll also have to design a cover image or find one that's right. Maybe I'll finally give Midjourney a try. I've been wanting to play with it since I learned about it. And there are other AI art programs now too, so I have options. We'll see what I feel like doing.

In the meantime, the first draft of Book 17 is about 45K words and a stinger scene won't add more than 1,000 words to that, so I'll likely hit the top of the range I expected.