Well, it has been almost 18 months since I last gave an update here. I spent the majority of that time finishing up grad school, which I did this summer. Woohoo! So, sadly to say, the book had to take a back seat.
But now I’m back, and I’ve been writing more than ever. I think I’ve added more new content in the last few months than I’ve added in the last several years. I’m having to rewrite the entire beginning because, well, little Marie couldn’t quite conceptualize a good story in the beginning. But as I’ve been working and brainstorming, I’ve changed things that I think will make the story much more what I originally wanted it to be. I’m anticipating a title change, so when I settle on that, you’ll be the first to know!
The series will discuss what it means to be a family and how to live with mental illness. And you may think, “But wait, Marie, I thought you were writing high fantasy?!” I am! Who says fantasy can’t speak to real-life struggles? I think that’s what makes the best fiction. Because fantasy people are still just people.
I hope you stick around for the ride. I’m having a blast realizing this dream of mine, and I can’t wait to share it with you.
My goal is to have a complete first draft by summertime so I can do my first round of edits and send it off to beta readers before the end of 2021. I would love to have a spring 2022 release if possible, if not sooner. But we’ll see how that goes. As for now, I just need to keep trucking along to get this first draft finished. Can’t do anything until that happens!
As promised, I’ll be sharing the names of all the major players in The Elven Dilemma below. But first, some backstory. Over the years, most of these names have changed at least once, and some of them have changed twice as I’ve gotten older and more mature (and less influenced by anime if we’re being honest). But there are three names that have remained consistent over time, which just blows my mind. How did 11-year-old Marie think of these names that she still loves 18 years later? I won’t question it. Which names do you think have persisted from the beginning?
So here we go. These names will be listed in order of importance, with the exception of the two main characters who are equal in importance. Next to the names, I will give a short explanation of who these characters are and their general roles in the story. Let’s get into it!
Valkan: male protagonist
Veronia: female protagonist
Valkan and Veronia are twins from Kan’nea Village who have been marked by the Protector. They must find strength within themselves and in each other to restore the balance of power between the peoples.
Cyan: male antagonist
Caiwynne: female antagonist
Cyan and Caiwynne are twins from Haven Village. Their father, an elf, chose to side with the humans and created an army of half-breeds to spread his influence throughout the human territories.
Samara: cousin of Valkan and Veronia. Samara was sent away as a child for her own protection, but now it’s her turn to protect those she loves.
Athren: the mysterious stranger who shows up out of nowhere and helps Veronia realize her power.
Cephan: Cyan’s oldest brother.
Halvor: the human who sheltered Samara in her time of need.
Raen’ne: dumpling maker in Haven Village. She raises her son and niece alone in a cottage outside the village and gives Valkan refuge. Her son is Rowan, and her niece (whom she treats as a daughter) is Maelle.
Well, there it is. Those are the main characters in The
Elven Dilemma. I can’t wait to share even more of this with you as I finish the
book. Stay tuned for more updates.
I know it has been ages since my last blog post, but my summer classes are kicking my butt! I just wanted to give a quick update in this post because I’m working on a post where I will reveal all the names of the major players in The Elven Dilemma (I know, I know. I can hardly contain my excitement!!!!) I’ll be posting that one shortly.
As I mentioned in a previous post, The Elven Dilemma has evolved into a five-part series, so I ran a poll on Twitter and Facebook (shameless plug to my social media handles) asking my fans if they would rather see my dwarf book or my human book next. And the votes have been tallied…
Dwarf book wins by a landslide! (That might be a pun. You’ll just have to wait and see)
I will admit I was hoping dwarves would win. I am so excited to research more about dwarves and begin telling the story of Maara, the dwarf who just doesn’t seem to fit in with the rest of her people. But you’ll have to stay tuned for more info on her. I still have to finish up The Elven Dilemma first. I’m almost at 68k words. Eeeee, so excited!
I hit a milestone in my novel this week. Between the
material that I have handwritten and have begun typing and the new material I
started typing in October I have surpassed the 52k word mark! That doesn’t seem
like a lot, but I’m planning for this novel to be roughly 100k words, and that
means I have passed the halfway mark. I still have over half the handwritten
material to transcribe, and I also need to rewrite the entire beginning (sigh),
but I will get there. On Tuesday this week, I wrote the scene that will be the
catalyst to the rising action, leading into the climax of the book, and that
scene gave me a renewed motivation to write. I hit such a big wall with this
novel a few weeks ago, so I put it away to let it rest until Tuesday this week.
And even on Tuesday, after letting it rest for over two weeks, I still stared
at my screen for hours before any words came to me. Thankfully, they eventually
came, and I was able to push through the block and progress to a good point in
To combat this block, I took motivation from MerMay to get
back into drawing. I used to draw constantly when I was younger, but I all but
stopped once I reached college. I did take an art class my last semester of my
undergrad, which helped me rekindle my drawing passion for a while, but then
grad school happened and mostly stifled that creativity again (sigh again).
Well, fast forward to May 1, and I cracked open the sketchbook that I keep in my office for moments of boredom or stress. I’ve done something artsy every day in May, which feels so nice. I spent several days working on the same drawing of one of my main characters, Veronia, trying to build up colors with my less-than-stellar colored pencils. I also started drawing another character, Samara, but my blue colored pencil broke, and it took me forever to get a sharpener, so she’s still unfinished. I’ve also been playing with markers to see if I can make them work (see below, and don’t judge. Literally first time ever using markers and the set had no browns, so I had to make brown with yellow and purple, so I think it turned out pretty good considering…), and I bought a calligraphy set to play with as well. Overall, I’m pretty excited about being artsy again.
I have discovered that when I’m stuck in my novel, doing something else artsy really helps stimulate my creative juices and makes me want to work on my novel. I’m really grateful that I have the ability to practice my drawing to distract me from my writer’s block. My problem now is that I want to draw more than I want to write! So now it’s a matter of balancing the creativity that I engage in to stay well-rounded with it all. The good thing is, drawing my characters has made me realize how terribly I described them in my novel. It’s hard to draw detailed characters that have little to no description besides hair and eye color (nervous laughter). So starting to draw my characters is making me a better writer.
Sorry that this blog is all over the place. I’ve had an overall creative yet only somewhat productive few weeks, but I hit the milestone of being halfway through this third draft (but second full draft) of my novel, and I’m very happy about that. I’ve found a renewed joy to be creative, and I’m looking forward to finishing this draft by fall (fingers crossed).
It has been a while since I wrote anything here, but all is
not lost! I have finally made progress on The Elven Dilemma, and I have
exciting news! What once was a standalone book has turned into a five-book
series! My post about being a Middle-Earth Dwarf made me realize that I had
more material than I could cover in a single book, so I have decided to break
it into sections.
My struggle is that I’m not sure how to number/categorize
the books. The way they are designed, none of the first three need to be read
in any particular order, so numbering them 1, 2, 3 doesn’t really work. Any
thoughts? I’ve considered A, B, and C, but it just doesn’t give the effect that
I want. I could create my own kind of numbering or symbol system, but books
four and five do need to be read in order. I’m truly at a loss and would
welcome any insight. Thankfully I am still working on book 1, so I have time to
figure out the numbering for the rest. I’ve decided on a series name, and I
have working titles for books 2, 3, and 5, but they are a secret for now (cue
In other news, I have continued transcribing the
hand-written copy of The Elven Dilemma. Apparently I never mentioned that I began
handwriting The Elven Dilemma circa 2007. When Borders was still around, my
best friend and I loved browsing the bargain books section. There we would find
sketchbooks and journals, and one day I found the infamous sketch journal. This
journal had lined pages on the right side and blank pages for sketching on the
left side. They are (were) massive and hardbound and everything I never knew I
needed. Stupid me only bought one, and I have yet to find another of its kind from
any other retailer, physical or online.
After losing at least one version of this novel to a
computer virus, I vowed to hand write it for fear of losing it again and not
being able to retrieve it. I filled the last page of that sketch journal back
in September and decided to start typing the novel from then on since I couldn’t
find a matching book to continue handwriting in. Since beginning to type my
novel, I have typed 29k words, which, I know, does not seem like much
considering I started typing it 7 months ago. But with life the way it is, I’m
happy for and proud of those 29k words.
A few months ago, I found myself in a rut (I wrote about it! You should check out that blog as well!) and I couldn’t come up with any words to write, so my husband suggested that I start transcribing the handwritten material so I can join the two files at some point. Well, I did just that, and this weekend I hit almost 15k words that I’ve transcribed (and revised as I went along). The crazy thing is that I did a rough estimate of the number of words in that book before the first of the year, and based on word counts from several random pages and the number of pages in the book, I assumed that I would have between 35 and 40k words in there. Surprise! I’m not even 1/4 of the way through this book, and I have already reached 15k, so if my math is correct, there should be around 60k handwritten words in my sketch journal (not to mention the fact that the entire first half needs to be rewritten because 2007 Marie was still quite naïve and smooshed too much into too few pages).
In all, it’s looking like this novel is going to be close to
or over 100k words, which is a lot for a YA novel. However, I plan on hiring an
editor, who will likely trim that word count for me! I am teeming with excitement
about everything surrounding The Elven Dilemma, and I can’t wait to continue
sharing this journey with you all!
If you’ve read anything I’ve written on here, it should be fairly obvious that I love Tolkien’s works and Middle-earth in general. And I have loved elves for as long as I can remember. They are elegant, graceful, tall, and beautiful, and I have wanted to be one my entire. I even bought metal elf ears at a fair! But the older I get, the more I realize that I could not be any farther from being an elf. In fact, I believe I am actually a dwarf. Thanks to an amazing gaming session over the weekend and throughout this week, playing Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance 2 with a dear friend on my old school PS2, I have discovered that I have more in common with dwarves than elves, and here’s why.
I’m short yet strong.
So according to the Tolkien Gateway, dwarves are
between 4.5 and 5 feet tall. Now, I am 5’1, so by this standard I would be taller
than average, which would be a first for me. I was taller than average
throughout my childhood, but when I reached puberty at a fairly early age, I
basically stopped growing—up that is. However, I strongly believe that my
height adds to my lower-body strength. I may not have the strongest upper body,
but my lower body is quite strong, which I attribute to my low center of
gravity. I’m pretty hard to push over if I’m rooted.
I’ve been chunky since the later years of my adolescence and
throughout my adult life, and my weight in addition to my height make me appropriately
stocky and dwarf-like. Gimli had it right when he explained to Legolas that
dwarves are natural sprinters and very dangerous over short distances. See, I
participated in track when I was in high school, and I was a thrower (and not
very good if we are being honest). My coach liked to have extra relay teams to
get extra points for our team, even if the second relay team came in last
place. I was usually on that second relay team of misfits (misfats really). But
on the 100, I was able to at least stay close to the other runners because it
was a sprint, and I can sprint! But, alas, these short legs tire out quickly
from carrying around my robust figure.
I have a beard.
Thanks to my dark, hairy genes, I have a visible mustache
and sprouting beard that I unsuccessfully manage with tweezers and questionable
hair removal products. I’ve been teased for my dark mustache my entire life,
but as I approach 30 it bothers me less and less. My husband loves me regardless,
even though my mustache and beard rival his own, just life a dwarf woman.
I’m reclusive, stubborn, and jealous.
Much like dwarves, I would stay alone in the dark forever if
I could, hidden away from the world with the things I treasure most. I’m a
natural introvert and feel recharged by solitude. Of course, there are times when
I want socialization but usually only with people like me. I am stubborn to a
fault and would rather learn something the hard way than do something a certain
way because someone else told me I had
to do it that way. I’m also very jealous. If anyone so much as looks at my
husband with a lingering eye, or if he smiles a bit too brightly at another
woman, I feel the monster beginning to rise in my chest. I’m loyal to a fault
and expect my people to be as well. Although I hate to admit it, I’m not just
jealous in my relationships. Jealousy is possibly my biggest vice.
I’m good with my hands (Get your minds out of the gutter).
From an early age, I would take things apart just so I could
put them back together. I truly think I missed my calling as a mechanic of some
sort. I have fond memories from my adolescence of building contraptions in my
room until the wee hours of the morning. To this day I love crafting and making
things with my hands. My most recent exploits have included making steampunk
accessories, which I would say have turned out pretty well for my first attempts.
Check them out below!
There are more points I could make to confirm that, despite my obsession with elves from an early age, I am actually a dwarf. But this seems like a fairly good list for now. And now that I consider all the wonderful elements that bless elves, namely their elegance, grace, height, and beauty, I am quite resentful of them. I am awkward, clumsy, stocky, and plain, but I’d say those things make me a pretty good dwarf. What are your thoughts? Do you think I qualify as a dwarf? What Middle-earth race would you classify yourself as?