OK, that title is still tentative, but I'm starting to like it more and more.
The first draft of Wicked Initiations, which is the prequel to The Longevity Thesis, was finished a few weeks ago, and has been sent out to the first round of test readers. So far, one of them tells me it's "superior" to LT, and other described it as "much better".
This is encouraging, especially since it's only the first draft. I'm hoping to add about 30k words, and still think I could polish it up a bit more. Anyway, while I wait for the critiques to trickle in, I've been indulging in one of my favourite activities, which is to make some little graphics to promote the novel later on.
The first one I've done is of the character named Kyril. She is an Aragoth who does not die in the surface-underground war, and becomes a central player in the formation of events that eventually lead up to the "birth" of Antronos, who is of course the protagonist in The Longevity Thesis. Aragoths are not natural creatures, having been created in the Desert using a mysterious animation process for generating disposable and intensely loyal soldiers. As such, Kyril "eats" only on the surface, and has to absorb the elements of wind, water and Earth, in order to continue existing. This activity ties into one of the underlying themes of the novel, which is the proper direction of one's Qi (life energy) in order to attain a worthy state of existence that is relatively pain-free.
Of course, I'm using The GIMP graphics program and the Wacom graphics tablet my brother gave me last year.
I started off with a base sketch - pencil and paper - which I photographed and loaded up as a digital image. From there, I used separate layers for the base colours, light and dark shades, and the light that is supposed to represent the elements Kyril is absorbing. I'll eventually use this image in promotional bookmarks and on the webpage, once the novel is finished.
I think I might redo her hand around the light bubble (which is actually another character in itself - won't tell you which!) so that the fingers bend around it a bit. I'd also like to change the background to a Desert scene and maybe put another character standing in the background. But the learning curve is steep, and that will take me some time.