Elaria – Balance & Evolution

In Hidden Memory, the elves explain to Annalla the natural balance of the realm and how that balance is expressed through what they refer to as “balanced creation.” Elves versus gilar. Fairy versus vampires. Irimoten versus windani. In this post, I will share a little more about how this concept presents within Elaria. 

Good Versus Evil 

Sentient creatures in Elaria are drawn toward one side of this dichotomy or the other. While the specific definitions are difficult to pin down because of the myriad of factors that can influence a situation, these are real and tangible concepts in the realm. 

Elves are naturally inclined to act in “good” ways. They seek to live in balance and harmony with the world around them. An elf will place what is best for the whole over what is best for themselves. They are patient, thoughtful, and open-minded. Violence is not anathema to them, but it serves as a means to an end within these parameters. 

Gilar, in contrast, are naturally inclined to act in “evil” ways. They care about power and control and are driven by selfishness and greed. Individual goals, wants, and desires are the primary force behind their actions. They glory in violence and suffering and will torture their own weak for entertainment if it suits them.

So, if nature seeks balance and the elves promote balance, why were the gilar created? Because nature is messy. It evolves and changes, grows and renews. The elves, immortal and in harmony, were stagnant. There could be no more elves, and the world would not change. Essense pressed for new life, but it would not come to the elves without also bringing death.

Because nature is messy. It evolves and changes, grows and renews.

The essential forces driving life in Elaria surged in other parts of the world, seeking to balance the influence of the elves. Thus, the gilar came to be over time. They evolved, spread, and came into conflict with their elven neighbors as they sought death and destruction.

Nature of the Balances

To preserve the emergence of the initial race the balance created is always at a slight disadvantage from an individual conflict or combat perspective. The elves emerged first, and one-on-one, the elf will usually win. Despite the gilar being stronger, the elves are strong enough and have better speed and agility that more than compensates. The same is true comparing the most recent balance to emerge, the irimoten and windani. 

For the fairy and vampires, however, it was the vampires to first emerge into the world. The fairy are the balance. From the perspective of speed and agility in the air, the two races are closely matched with the fairy slightly edging out their opposite. Vampires have a sensory advantage, especially at night in the dark, and their venom is highly lethal to the fairy. 

While the elves and irimoten have no desire to press their advantage against their balance, the vampires did and hunted the fairy to near extinction. Only by leveraging their essential powers and connection to the realm were the fairy able to avoid such a fate. 

On the Dichotomy

As a final note today, I will share approximately where the races fall on the good/evil dichotomy in Elaria. 

Over the millennia, Elaria had been drifting slowly closer to the physical side of the power/force spectrum. The elves and gilar emerged earliest in history and most divergent from a good/evil perspective. As the realm drifted, the next pair emerged a little closer together. To put it in simplistic moral terms, the scope of concern of the fairy was slightly smaller than the elves and slightly larger for the vampires over the gilar. When the irimoten and windani emerged, those scopes had grown and shrunk respectively once more. 

This drifting toward the physical side is what allowed the connection with Earth and saw the humans and dwarves enter Elaria. Their presence may have kept the realm drifting in that direction, but another force was already at work. The magai connecting to and entering Elaria had already shifted the momentum of the realm. Elaria is now drifting back toward the magical side, but the movement is so gradual, that only some of the longest-lived elves might one day see the impact. 

Of the Realms – Interaction

Side note before I begin this week’s post: I’m doing a social media giveaway for a free eBook. The winner will receive an Amazon (US) coupon code for Hidden Memory, and you can enter by sharing my series on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and tagging my account! The winner will be drawn when I receive my proof copy of Hidden Sanctuary, so enter by Monday, 6/27!

Of the Realms

Welcome back to another informative post regarding the realms I mention in my books. I began with an overview of the power and forces at work in the “Orientation” post. I recommend checking that one out first, as I will reference that information here. 

Movement 

While the realms all exist along the spectrum of physical/mystical power, their positions are not static. Each realm has a central governing force acting as an anchor around which it shifts. Aryanna is a physical realm, anchored by science and physics. With this anchor, it will never be a high magic realm. The limitation does not, however, mean mystical forces are unable to enter or influence the realm. 

A realm’s movement can ebb and flow naturally, or it can shift based upon the efforts of the people living there. In a physical realm, the more people learn and leverage scientific advances, the further the realm shifts in that direction along the spectrum. The same is true for high magic realms, but often in much less predictable ways. 

This movement is predicated upon the influence of a realm’s governing force. A high magic realm might have natural laws regarding the creation and consumption of magic. In such a realm, overuse of magic could push the realm toward the physical side of the spectrum as magic becomes depleted. 

Interaction

The movement of the realms facilitates the rare occurrences of interaction, which requires overlap and connection. Realms overlap when the movement of two realms brings them close enough along the power spectrum for their spheres of influence to “touch.” It could be anything from barely brushing the outer edge to occupying the same space along the line. So long as there is at least one point of contact, interaction is possible.

Because we are talking about the power spectrum and NOT about physical space, occupying the same place is 100% possible and does NOT convey any higher probability of interaction. For interaction to happen, a connection must be formed. Each time an overlap starts, there is a small percentage chance that the “friction” created will trigger a bridge to be initiated. The bridge is the connection making interaction possible.

When realms are connected, a pocket forms physically where people and creatures can pass. As two realms overlap more, the pocket can become more stable and visible. Then, as they drift apart, the pocket destabilizes until it finally fades and doesn’t return. During the initial and final stages, when the connection is unstable, the pocket can move, shift, or even split in the physical world, and many bridges never achieve stability.

A natural bridge, such as this, is how humans and dwarves came to live in Elaria. The dwarves fled persecution, while a few groups of humans explored and expanded out of curiosity or need. Some human explorers returned to Aryanna before the pockets faded, bringing along stories of the elves. However, the first elf to enter Aryanna found their essential connection to the world depleted to the point of pain, and no others attempted to cross over.

The arrival of the magai, in contrast, was not the result of a natural bridge. An artificial bridge provided the link between Scorcellen and Elaria. Using their magic, and certain spells learned through the ages, the magai stretched their realm’s sphere out from one point. They pushed it until the point touched another realm, then caused friction with their power in an attempt to force a bridge into existence.

The power expenditure was massive, and the attempts failed more often than not. For those reasons, the process became highly regulated in Scorcellen. The connection to Elaria was made, and all the magai arrived within a month. Then, the bridge collapsed, and Scorcellen’s sphere snapped back into its natural shape, causing ripples throughout the realm.

History

Thus are the ways the realms move and interact, along with a tantalizingly brief history. What happened to Scorcellen? What was Elaria like before the others arrived? I intend to continue this series with some of these answers in the future. For now, thank you for visiting, and I hope this helps explain some of the references in the Hidden Series.

Book Days Abound

We have a few book-related days lined up and squashed together right around this week. First up was National Tell a Story Day in the USA on April 27th. Today, the last Saturday in April is Independent Bookstore Day! Finally, tomorrow kicks off the start of Get Caught Reading Month in May!

National Tell a Story Day 

On Wednesday, I decided to celebrate this day by posting a few shorts on social media about the various realms mentioned in my Hidden Series. Depending on if and where you follow me, you might have seen one of these three blurbs pop up in your feed: 

  1. The Realm of Elaria, homeland to the elves, used to exist in balance. Growth and destruction. Life and death. Good and evil. Kahnlair has broken this balance. For the first time, evil fights united. A merciless army spreading and overwhelming the allied forces until even the immortal elves face extinction. 
  2. Centuries ago, humans came to Elaria from a realm known to the elves as Aryanna. The two crossed briefly, less than a mere hundred years, for the human realm is governed by the physical world around them. Laws of math and science hold sway, and the humans developed to a point incompatible with Elaria. The realms drifted apart once more. Small human settlements remained within the mystical realm, but in Aryanna, all the elves left behind were legends and folklore. 
  3. The magai of Scorcellen know a great deal, and entirely too little, about the existence of other realms. Scorcellen exists in a magical bottleneck of sorts. In one direction, the realms become lower magic, floating around each other in a nearly linear pattern. In the other direction, the realms fan out, spinning and bouncing off each other, generating a stew of high magical energy, energy the magai need.

I have been getting more questions about the realms and how they interact from readers.

For the Hidden Series, broad information about the realms is not central to the plot, so I have yet to find a way to bring it into the story without it sounding like an out-of-place lecture. 

To resolve this, I have decided to kick off a series of blog posts about the realms as a perfectly placed lecture instead! Readers who follow my blog here or later check the website will be able to get some of those answers to questions I will likely not be fully explaining in the books for quite some time. 

Independent Bookstore Day

For this day, I am going to highlight Page Turner Books in Kent, WA. Earlier this year, Wayne at PTB gave me a table in his store for the Meeker Street Nerd Party event for my first book signing ever. 

PTB has a great selection of books, new and used, and things like Funko toys. Next door, PTB recently expanded into a second location for comics and manga. Between the two, they likely have something to satisfy your reading needs. They also participate in Meeker Street events and have additional nerd-related signings. 

Do they stock my book(s) yet? No, because I’m not yet on expanded distribution on Amazon, and I have not reached out to see if he is interested in buying a couple directly from me. 

Eventually, this will be the most likely bookstore to find signed copies. Once I’m in demand enough for expanded distribution, PTB will be one of the closest indie bookstores to me and easiest for me to stop by and tag a few. 

Get Caught Reading Month

I have decided to issue a challenge to you all for this month: 

In the month of May, anytime from the 1st to the 31st, post a picture or video of yourself with my book (cover visible in either format) on social media and tag my relevant account. It could be Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok (@tiffanyshearn_author), and all of my accounts except TikTok are at the bottom of my blog, newsletter, and website. 

If just ten people do this, when I do my Hidden Sanctuary giveaway of a signed paperback later this year, I will giveaway two instead of just one, AND everyone who makes a post will automatically receive one entry. 

The giveaway will be done the same way as the first time through the newsletter with the same fine print (mostly around not being able to guarantee international), but you do not need to be signed up for the newsletter to receive this social media entry. I will also allow the winner(s) to pick which of my two books they want me to sign and send. 

Have fun getting caught reading in May!

Available for Preorder!

My book officially drops onto e-readers in just over ten weeks and is available for preorder now! I hit the submit button on Amazon this morning and was so nervous that something would go wrong. They say it can take up to 72 hours before it is live for preorder, so I was bracing for a long wait. I can’t even tell you how much I have been grinning since getting the notification that it went through just fine, but you can probably imagine. 

Before I delve into some publication sharing, I want to say thank you to everyone who helped me get this far. The interest and support of family and friends helped me push past the fear and imposter syndrome and make it to this stage. The professional support for artists, editors, and readers is crucial to realizing a vision. I tried to name all of the direct contributors in the back of the book, and I know I missed some of you. Please consider this for you as well as the additional thanks I’m sure to write when the book is published and available. 

Hitting Submit

I know there are some fellow authors following me or looking in on these, so I also want to share some of the steps I have been taking recently to get to this point. While I am not going to say the Amazon publishing tools are perfect, I have found them all relatively easy to work with. A lot of these steps I set up and started playing around with a few months ago just in case I had any issues understanding what was happening. 

First, I set up a KDP account separate from my personal Amazon account. I’m not sure exactly what might happen if I mixed them, but I made sure they were separate just in case. One that was set up, I went to my “Bookshelf” and started setting up Hidden Memory in the tool as a draft. I wanted to see how it looked and what options there were. I’m still not sure about the categories I selected, but I can adjust those by contacting Amazon later, so those are not a deal-breaker for moving forward. (They could be critical to sales, so do not discount the importance of categories.)

I also decided to use the Kindle Create tool to turn my Word doc into an ebook format. There are pros and cons to this. I will probably use it again, but I will keep in mind the limitations. 

Pros: 

  • Following the instructions, it read and formatted the file well.
  • It includes tools for frontmatter and backmatter (see this blog post for great links) which were simple and useful.
  • It allows nice preview of the document in multiple formats. 

Cons: 

  • The KPF files are not able to be used on other tools. This is impactful because I plan on using BookFunnel for ARCs (post probably next week on this). 
    • The frontmatter/backmatter does not translate.

I shifted to Calibre for BookFunnel to create a mobi. KDP no longer accepts mobi files, so it is something to keep in mind.

Once my book was published, I was able to create my Amazon author page, and I also submitted for a Goodreads author page. The latter is still pending, so TBD on how that works. My next steps are a Bookbub author page, a BookFunnel account, and gathering ARC readers to submit early reviews. I plan on getting to some paid advertising next month or closer to the release date to generate some additional interest, but I have no idea what that looks like yet. There is always something more to learn and do.

I hope you are having a great weekend. Go Sounders! Go Mariners!