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 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).
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?
As I mentioned in my last blog, I began writing this novel over 18 years ago, which is something that completely blows my mind. I was 11 when I wrote the first draft of this novel. 11. Who does that? Me apparently, and even though 11-year-old me was oh so naïve, 29-year-old me still appreciates those humble beginnings and has been struggling to get this novel to publishing quality ever since. This is my 3rd rewrite thanks to technology issues and overall growing pains throughout the years. So I wanted to share a little of my history and where this novel came from.
Growing up, I walked to school every day, and my absolute
favorite part of the day was going to the library after school. My elementary school
took up the majority of a city block, and the library was across the street. My
parents both worked, so neither one of them minded that I would spend an hour
or two in the library every day. I usually made it home before them anyway.
Now, when I was in 4th grade, my teacher had the class sit in a circle and read aloud together every day. Her book series of choice was the Magic Tree House series. I fell in love with the series, and I found myself checking them out from the library so I could read more and more. At some point between 4th and 6th grade, I saw an Anne McCaffrey book in the same area as the Magic Tree House books, and I thought, hmm, it has a dragon on the front. How bad could it be? And that was the beginning of Marie Lenore the author. Those Pern novels fueled my desire to write my own stories, and I did just that.
To be honest, I’m not sure where the idea came from to make my characters elves in this novel, but my best guess would be video games. I loved playing games like Baldur’s Gate and Champions of Norrath and Dark Cloud (anyone else play that one? I don’t think any of the characters were elves, but Toan looked like one). My favorite race to play in games was always the elven race. I loved how graceful and beautiful they were, and as a clumsy girl whose awkward stage lasted way too long, I yearned for a life like the ones I imagined them having. I also watched a lot of anime, specifically Sailor Moon (still my favorite). The alien characters, Alan and Ann, in Sailor Moon R sure looked a lot like elves, and I recall drawing them constantly and designing my original protagonists based on them. And then of course The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was released right after I turned 12, so no doubt I drew continued inspiration from Tolkien.
From the time that I initially started this novel to now,
the title has changed twice, all but three of the characters’ names have
changed at least once, and the plot has changed twice. Most of this is simply
because I grew up as I wrote it, and while I don’t have the very first version
of it anymore, I do have the cringe worthy version from 2004 that somehow
turned the characters into vampires (I blame Anne Rice).
In all, I’m grateful for where I started. I know that my
experiences throughout life have led me to this point, but if I hadn’t started this
novel as a naïve 11-year-old girl, I don’t think I would have the same
appreciation for writing as I do today.