My First Ever Mood Board

It’s astounding, really, that I’ve never created a mood board before, what with all the novels I’ve drafted. I’ve collected pictures, and I love having pictures for inspiration, but an actual mood board has never happened. Well, it’s happened now and I’m wanting to slap myself for not having done it sooner.

Given my focus will soon be on Protecting the Pneuma Key, I decided to make a mood board to share on this blog and social media like I do my maps.

What fun!

The fun was elevated because I used my new Affinity Photo app to make the board. With all I have going on, I’ve not had the opportunity to spend time working with the app, which is kinda driving me crazy. The mood board, to be honest, was simple to make.

Protecting the Pneuma Key mood board. All pictures courtesy of Pixabay. Board: ©2022 CA Hawthorne

Protecting the Pneuma Key mood board. All pictures courtesy of Pixabay. Board: ©2022 CA Hawthorne

It also allowed for applying my creativity in a visual way, which was a nice change. The picture placement isn’t random, but based on the color scheme I wanted. Too, there was some picture trimming, and not just for size. I removed elements that didn’t reflect, yes, the mood.

There was some frustration with finding all the pictures I wanted (and were royalty free, of course). One omission was an appropriate courtroom. It kind of goes with writing fantasy that finding pictures of what doesn’t exist, and only you have ever visualized, is difficult.

For me, first and foremost, that’s airships. There are countless steampunk airships online, but none look like Pannulus airships. I’ve sketched what they look like for my own reference, but the word sketch is being too kind. I’ve never attempted to create a worthy picture before, so there’s something else to place on my long list of tasks to do.

Still, the picture search was its own fun.

I had to be careful to not include pictures that’d be obvious spoilers later and a few came close. The one cheat was using a picture of a beaver to represent a ryll. I don’t have a descent picture of a ryll yet. They’ve a beaver’s teeth, bear cub’s basic body shape, house cat’s size, and monkey’s agility in the trees.

Five rylls, plus her woolly pterosaur and other other animals, make up Zephtasha’s family of familiars.

My pleasant surprises were finding the rock formations, especially the one in the lower right (from the Isle of Skye). Towering formations of black rock dominate the landscape in Cather, many of them within the city (a restaurant sits atop one). In Cather, though, there’d be trees. The formations in Cather also extend into the lake where they become the Bladed Rocks…

Still, for a few minutes, there was the view. The wharf stretched southeast. Beyond, the Bladed Rocks disappeared into the fog. They pointed the way to the peninsula and the City of Cather. It never failed to fill her heart, even it they’d all like to drown her in the lake.

“Okay, dears.” All five rylls gathered at attention around her feet. “Find a tree to trim and I’ll be back in half-an-hour. Remember, you can only take one small branch back each. One, Tawny! And no sprawling affairs, Silver. I don’t care how attractive it is. They scratch passenger legs.”

Silver moaned.

My hindsight reaction to the experience is that I draw a lot of inspiration from looking at the board. As my gaze darts from picture to picture the novel comes to life.

Protecting the Pneuma Key 1

Cover: CA Hawthorne

At present, I’m finishing the edit on a novella, Interview Anxiety, while readying my return to Pneuma Key. Having made the mood board, I’m even more anxious to do so, which is why I’m allowing myself a little time each day there. When I do, it’ll be my first opportunity to utilize my Targeted Editing Plan and work out its kinks (if there are any).

*It isn’t exactly a plan. More a flexible guide.

I also need to spend a little time with Affinity over the summer (summer? … May is more like March so far). I’d love to make mood boards for other novels. I already have a lot of pictures for Case of the Deadly Stroll (and need that pesky airship). Too, I’ve long accumulated pictures for the earliest Riparia novels.

Still, no matter what I’m working on, my focus is on Pneuma Key and Anthology 1 this year since they’re the first two books scheduled for publication.


About Christina Anne Hawthorne

Alive and well in the Rocky Mountains. I'm a fantasy writer who also dabbles in poetry, short stories, and map making. My Ontyre tales are an alternative fantasy experience, the stories rich in mystery, adventure, and romance. Alternative fantasy? Not quite steampunk. Not quite gothic. In truth, the real magic is in those who discover what's within.
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