Inspiration

At the Renaissance Faire, I was often asked “what other authors are your books like?” and “what books have inspired you?” I need to get better at answering these questions, but the answers are complex and not well-formed in my head. Some of this is the wealth of possibilities, and some is personal hang-ups. 

Works of Inspiration 

I grew up reading a variety of fiction. Peter Benchley and Michael Chrichton were a couple of my favorite suspense authors. My young adult reading was dominated by Christopher Pike and fantasy reading by authors like Mercedes Lackey and Carol Berg. I also tried to read at least one classic each month, sometimes more if they were novellas. 

While I read a few Goosebumps, Pike was my favorite of the two main options for that target audience age. The Last Vampire series was an amazing arc in his YA offerings. I also loved his adult novel The Season of Passage. Sci-fi, fantasy horror? Yes. I was obsessed and must have read the book at least twenty times. 

On the more general fantasy front, I read—and loved—Lord of the Rings, but not until later; around when the first movie came out. Earlier, I was reading series like the Arrows trilogy by Mercedes Lackey. I consider Lackey “old-school, easy” fantasy. This is my made-up term meaning I see her playing more to the presence of a driving force of “good” without deep or confusing intrigue. I love this. It helps you escape into

another world, you love the characters, and you look forward to the ending. Some of my other favorites from her are the Five Hundred Kingdoms books, the Herald-Mage trilogy, and the Obsidian Mountain trilogy she wrote with James Mallory. I also enjoyed her YA Hunter series.

Here are a few of my other favorites:

  • Carol Berg: the Rai-Kirah series and The Bridge of D’Arnath series
  • Jennifer Fallon: The Second Sons trilogy and Hythrun Chronicles
  • Anne Bishop: Black Jewels World and Tir Alainn trilogy
  • Trudi Canavan: Black Magician trilogy and Age of the Five trilogy

There are more I am forgetting right now. If I remember more this month, I will share for National Book Month on my various social media accounts.

One final note on some of my favorite books growing up regarding the classics I read. The early sci-fi books like Frankenstein and some by H. G. Wells were entertaining reads. I liked The Picture of Dorian Gray1984 has one of my favorite quotes—I say “quote,” but it is really an entire paragraph. Finally, my favorite of all the classics I read is The Count of Monte Cristo. Fantastic story. I have read it multiple times.

Where I Fit

Considering the varied influences, it is no surprise that my first series is not written for a particular market. The core of the Hidden Series developed in my mind throughout my college years. Larron’s appearance was 100% influenced by my super-crush on Orlando Bloom.

While there are LotR elements in my books, I don’t think I can say “If you loved LotR, then you’ll enjoy the Hidden Series.” It might be a little like Mistborn, but lighter on the intrigue. It has some similarities to the Lightbringer series, but again not enough for me to call it out. Maybe The Dragon riders of Pern or Trudi Canavan’s works? Those feel closer, but still…

Part of my hesitation with comparing my books to more well-known works is that I am comparing myself on some level to those authors. Imposter syndrome rears its ugly head, and I know I could never be good enough.

It is not true. With the comparison, I am attempting to reference the type of story a reader can expect. Experienced authors were not always as skilled as they are today, either. I don’t know that I will ever think of myself as great, but I think I’m pretty good. That is an accomplishment for me when it comes to confidence.

Your Favorites?

I have shared several of my favorites here. What are some of yours? What did you read growing up? What about now? Let me know here, or on one of my National Book Month posts on social media.

For those of you who have read and enjoyed my books, let me know your favorite part, or leave a rating/review on Amazon. As always, thank you for your support!

Elaria – Elves

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.

Connection

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.

Society

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?

Thank you!

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.

Fall Festi-Con Fair

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!

As always, thank you for all your support!

Summer’s End

We are rapidly approaching what has been—for me—a whirlwind summer. Over the last month and a half, I have DMed at GenCon, gotten sick, sold at the Renaissance Fair, and hosted my brother’s family for their visit. While all this was happening, I have also been working on a significant career change.

After more than seventeen years in the corporate world, I want to explore being my own boss. While I would love for this to mean becoming a full-time author, I have nowhere near the backlist needed to make that a reality. Though, I’m working on it.

There are several options I’m exploring and putting effort into. I’m not sure where I will land, but I worked carefully for years to put myself in a secure enough position to make a change like this. It will work out. One way or another, I will do what it takes to move forward.

I also got a new “end of summer” haircut! Back to my bright red and trying out an undercut.

Reflection

If you had asked me a year ago where I would be today, my answer would have been incorrect. I was heading toward the publication date for my first book, hoping it would eventually reach and entertain fifty strangers. All the research and effort were coming together for that final deadline.

Not even a year later, I have already far surpassed my conservative goal of fifty readers. I met some amazing people at live events who are eager to read my work and excited to meet me. My goals for 2022 felt daring at the start of the year, and now I believe I will surpass them despite all my lingering doubts and imposter syndrome.

If there is one thing I would add to the list, it would be doing more short-length videos (Tik Tok, Reels, etc.). A kind marketing expert who stopped to chat with me at the Ren Faire suggested I just get in front of a camera and talk through some questions. The exercise would give me some video material with which to work. I might give it a try before the month is out.

Here’s to another beautiful summer!

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.