I still have the epilogue to write, but I have officially completed the first draft of the last book in the Hidden Series! For NaNoWriMo, I wanted to finish this draft and write over 32k words. This officially accomplishes both goals three days ahead of schedule.
Book four will now be set aside for a while so I can do a revision of Hidden Promise based on my alpha feedback. It took about three months for me to do this for Hidden Sanctuary, and I’m targeting having it for my alpha readers in April, my editor in May, and it is due out in June. The timing cuts it pretty close, so I will work to cut two or three weeks off of these deadlines.
Book Four: Then and Now
One of the greatest challenges with this one was that I could not really use any of my original writing. Years ago, I finished a draft of the complete series. I knew where the story was going and many of the stops it would make along the way. Most of the characters were at least rough outlines in my mind. I had over 72k words already written for this portion of the story.
Then, I built it out, starting with Hidden Memory. The world grew. The characters grew. I did it again with Hidden Sanctuary. With Hidden Promise, I had only scratched the surface of the fairy lands and people initially. So, I delved deeper and gave them more.
By the time I returned to the point of the final book, there were too many changes. People were not where they had been. The importance of some places and events shifted. It would have been more effort to squeeze the previous writing into the new form than to write it all from scratch. In the end, I used the former writing as an outline, trashed the writing itself, and the draft ends up at around 107k words.
If I can swing it, the series finale will be available before June 2024. This means going through all of the reviews and revisions. As always, if I can release early, I will.
If you are interested in joining the team, know I have openings for ARC readers. The first two books are free on KU. Start with those and leave reviews. If you are still interested, reach out to me, and I can add you to the team for Hidden Promise coming out in 2023.
How do you write emotional scenes? I have seen this question on social media a few times, and it has me thinking about how I feel working through my books.
My emotions tend to bleed over in both directions. The bleed is less often from my life to my stories, but if I am feeling a high level of stress, my writing becomes more scattered. A common way it presents is by me missing my word goals by becoming unfocused and easily distracted as I’m pulled in a million directions at once or simply want to be done with all things computer for a while. High stress or distraction can also hinder the “good bleed” from the story to me, making it more difficult to relate to and feel my characters’ emotions.
There are scenes in each of my books that have strongly resonated with me as I wrote them. I chuckled in giddy delight at some clever quip a character made. I cried with them over a devastating loss. Feeling those emotions with them helps me articulate the moment, to put into words everything they are going through to help the reader experience it with them.
I’m close to the end of the last book (first draft) in the Hidden Series, and I’m feeling a little emotionally numb. So are my characters. There has been so much effort and coordination, so many reunions tempered by loss. One way or another, the end is near. They need and want this so much, but the event itself is difficult to speak about because even a victory is unlikely to end well.
How do you keep going when you’re exhausted and drained? How do you move forward when every step spells the death of another friend? How do you overcome your terror when failure means destruction?
You go a little numb. You chip away at your sanity and hope what remains at the end is still a person. You pack it away and do what needs to be done, hoping your ability to make rational decisions has not become compromised.
So, that’s how I write emotional scenes. I get into the same frame of mind and feel at least a fraction of what I imagine my characters are going through. I laugh with them and cry with them. Then, when I’m polishing that first draft, I look for where the emotional bleed pulled me far off track, and I buff out the rough edges. In the end, I hope you also relate to my characters enough to laugh and cry with them too, because I put them through the wringer.
I previously shared some general information about the elves and their society. You can find that post here. In it, I highlight how crucial the royal line is regarding the elves’ connection to their Woodlands. For today, I will be sharing more about the various woodlands.
As the elves slowly explored Elaria, they made additional connections to the land. While each Woodland was by no means homogenous, the elves drawn to each place often had similar physical characteristics. This frequently helped elves who did not feel the same depth of connection to their birthplace find their home Woodland from among the others.
The Auradian Woodland was the first, the origin of the elves. Centrally located on the continent, it bordered the Claw Mountains to the north, savannah to the west, plains to the east, and forest to the south. Elves spread to explore those nearby lands. Their presence made the natural foliage grow strong and lush, and the elves lived plentiful lives.
Initially, the elves only had skin in tones of gray with dark hair and bright eyes of blue or green. To this day, most Auradian elves have gray skin with undertones of green or blue. As the first Woodland, however, it has disproportionately more diversity than the others. The Auradian elves also see more spontaneous diversity in their children. They have a larger population and bear more children than the others, and more elves leave the Auradia Woodland to find their true home than the number entering.
Gray of skin, blue of eye.
Considering these factors, some elves believe that if the Auradia Woodland were lost, all the elves would eventually fade from the realm.
The Derou Woodland was the first to be founded by elves traveling from Auradia. It is to the northwest of Auradia, bordered by forest, mountain, desert, and savannah. The warmer weather near the desert made the Derou a veritable oasis with plant life variety unmatched elsewhere in the world. With this bounty, the Derou became the source of several medical discoveries and advancements in their initial years and beyond.
The first to strike out on their own.
Elves initially drawn to the Derou were those with dark gray skin trending toward reddish undertones. Over time, this distinction became more pronounced. Most Derou have skin ranging from very dark to light brown, often with red or gray undertones, and hair and eye colors within a similar spectrum.
The Satersa Woodland was founded just after the Derou in lands to the south of Auradia. The new Woodland sat nestled among rolling hills leading toward the ocean. They produced strong wood and fabrics.
Satersa elves had skin tones ranging from blue-gray to yellow-green and had hair colors as diverse. Some called them the “river elves” based on their coloration. These tones have since returned to the Auradia or gone to the Palonian, shifting with the destruction of Satersa.
When the gilar emerged in Elaria, they did so in the southern part of the continent. As they spread across the coast, the Satersa faced an unexpected enemy. They were quickly overwhelmed. The Heartwood was desecrated by the gilar, the royals died in the conflict, and refugees fled to their kin.
Lost. Gone from the realm.
Despite mounting a counterattack, the Heartwood was never reclaimed. The surviving Satersa eventually began to age and die. Children with a direct lineage to another Woodland sometimes survived by making another essential connection to their secondary ancestral land. Since the tragedy of Satersa, the elves have taken precautions to protect and defend the Heartwoods and the royal line of every remaining Woodland.
Travelers, elves who feel drawn away from their homelands, frequently have features drawing back to the Satersa. Blue or green eyes or skin undertones are some of the most common features shared among these elves. The prevalent theory is that these individuals would have belonged to the Satersa Woodland had it not been lost.
The Palonian Woodland is the youngest of the four. Its founding was barely a couple of thousand years before the vampires and fairy emerged in Elaria. Situated to the northeast of Auradia, the Palonian sits between two major rivers with plenty of farmland amid the scattered forests.
Last to emerge. Strongly influenced by their predecessors.
Palonian elves have skin tones like oak or maple wood with red or yellow undertones. These pale tones often came with brighter hair and eye colors. Bright red, blond, or chestnut hair. Jewel-bright blue, green, or hazel color eyes. Most of the initial Palonian came from either the Satersa or Derou. These origins still show in the greens and browns prevalent in the appearance of many Palonian elves.
Despite the differences in appearance and distance between them, there is little difference between their societies. They share people and resources in need and work together as stewards for the lands between and around their Woodlands. As more races emerged, the elves did their best to welcome or defend against them as their nature allowed. Though the land under their influence shrank, the elven core remains strong and steady.
You meet some of the Derou in Hidden Memory and explore the Palonian Woodland in Hidden Sanctuary. Also, if you love the books, don’t forget to take a moment to go to Amazon to leave a rating/review. Thanks for your support!
The elves are the eldest race to emerge in Elaria. Auradia was their original Woodland, and they spread out over time. Their natural connection and affinity to plant life condensed the power of the land in other areas, creating additional Heartwoods. The first elves to connect to these new woodlands became the conduits through which their kin gave and drew strength.
Hundreds of years passed, and the elves stopped having children. A balance had been achieved. Their lands were at capacity. No new lives entered the world, and no one died. Another hundred years, another, and more. An enemy emerged, and a Woodland came under attack. Gilar spread from the south in an overwhelming wave. Death and life resumed in Elaria.
Elves have an innate connection to plant life in Elaria, a symbiotic relationship via a feedback loop of essential energy. The elves strengthen the land, helping it grow and providing a rudimentary level of awareness or sense of surroundings. As the energy loops back, it enhances the elves’ essential connection to the physical world and provides for their rejuvenation leading to their immortality.
This essential connection runs through each elf’s respective monarch and heir. Being a conduit is an ability linked to a combination of the bloodline and being bearers of the power. Only a royal who serves as a monarch or heir can pass the ability to serve as a royal conduit to their children. For this reason, an elven royal family line has never extended beyond a third living generation.
The limited number of eligible royals is a vulnerability for the elves. They ensure at least one royal remains within the Heartwood at all times to mitigate the risk.
Words like king, queen, monarch, and royal came to Elaria with the humans. In the language of the elves, the terms used were more reminiscent of ‘trunk’ or ‘stem.’ The royals are the conduit through which -life energy flows. They support and provide structure for the whole.
“The royals are the conduit through which -life energy flows. They support and provide structure for the whole.”
With their central role, the royal family works to ensure their members receive education in a broad range of subjects beyond the basics taught to all elves. These topics cross into politics, leadership, strategy, and similar concepts. The need to protect the line and the additional training frequently places these individuals in leadership positions. However, even ‘leader’ differs from how humans might perceive the term. They guide and counsel when able. They listen and follow when needed. They work and contribute as any other elf.
The smaller, contained communities enable their society to operate more as a cohesive collective. Central, common tasks rotate responsibility. Specific skills and inclinations are leveraged where needed, and continuous learning is encouraged. Elves help and give of themselves freely for each other and the natural world in which they live.
Peace, competence, unity, and support are words often used to describe the elves. Those descriptions go beyond the individuals to who they are as a people. The relative lack of sick and infirm individuals helps maintain a society where everyone can and does help and contribute, while the restricted nature of their reproduction ensures they will not grow the population beyond their means to support.
From an initial, outside perspective, the elven world is idyllic. It is also stagnant. Learning and growth progress slowly. There is no driving need, no urgency. Why rush what you have forever to understand?
I hope this gives you some insight into the elves. You will not see this side of them in the books as much because things shift a bit in times of war. In the past, however, the conflicts were only skirmishes between them and the attacking gilar. My next Elaria post will likely be about the different Woodlands, and I might delve into some of those skirmishes then.
If you enjoy my posts, please like, share, or leave a comment. For those who have read and enjoyed my books, I would love and appreciate a rating/review on Amazon. As always, thank you for your support.
This afternoon, 9/24/22, I will be back in my Renaissance garb to chat about my books to anyone who will stop to listen. The idea fills me with both dread and anticipation. I always have to psyche myself up for a lot of human interaction. It is not where my energy comes from, and I continue to battle fits of shyness.
My excitement comes from all the people I have had the opportunity to chat with at other events this year. In February, I met my first fantasy fan excited to “meet the author.” Last month, people stopped by my tent to hear about my stories and ask about the world I created. The overwhelmingly positive and supportive response makes the next live event a little easier to approach.
The Fall Festi-Con Fair is hosted by the local independent bookstore, Page Turner Books, in Kent, Washington. More than a half-dozen authors across multiple genres and a local artist or two will be there. One of the authors will be giving a talk over at the bakery across the street. I will be there with a table at either the bookstore or comic shop right next door.
Deal of the Day
If you are in the area, stop by between 2- 7 pm. You can pick up both books together for a bundle discount. I will also be offering to honor the bundle pricing on the second book for anyone who picked up just the first at the Renaissance Faire. To get the Ren Faire deal, make sure to have your copy of the first book in hand!
Call to Action
For readers who have already read through one or both books and enjoyed them, I ask that you consider going onto Amazon to leave a rating/review. Reviews are a critical factor in new authors gaining promotions, generating interest, and eventually being able to offer additional formats like audiobooks. Reviews are a simple, yet powerful way to support the authors of works you have enjoyed.
If you have the time and inclination, I’ve included the links below. You would go to the book’s page, scroll to the reviews, and click on “write a review.” It might be necessary to log in, so if you don’t have an Amazon account, Goodreads and Bookbub are additional review locations!
Final reminder: when I reach 40 total Amazon reviews, I will be adding a deleted chapter from Hidden Sanctuary to the website. I have a new webpage and some revisions in-work to get it out there. Fingers crossed that it functions as expected, but I need those ratings from you before I start the test!