Character names reveal

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 counterpart of the Protector

Veronia: female counterpart of the Protector

            Valkan and Veronia are twins from Kana Village who have been marked by the Protector. They must find strength within themselves and in each other to persist against the darkness the Chosen One brings.

Veronia © Robert Hallowell

Cyan: male counterpart of the Chosen One

Caiwynne: female counterpart of the Chosen One

            Cyan and Caiwynne are twins from Haven Village who were marked as the Chosen One. Legend tells that the Chosen One will cleanse the land and unify the people under one rule. For good or for evil, only time will tell.

Samara: cousin of Valkan and Veronia. Samara disappeared as a child but returned to take her place as the bride of the Chosen One.

Athren: the mysterious stranger who shows up out of nowhere and helps Veronia realize her power.

Cephan: Cyan’s oldest brother. He is banished by Cyan after failing to trap Veronia into being his bride, and he spends his days trying to make up for it.

Horlaen: the human accused of kidnapping Samara as a child. Horlaen lives in isolation but agrees to train Valkan for the upcoming battle.

Raenna: 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.

TFW Your Standalone Novel Evolves into a 5-Part Series

Hello, fantasy friends!

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 sinister giggle).

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.

© 2018 Robert Hallowell

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!

Why I Am Actually a Dwarf

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’m stocky.

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!

© 2019, Robert Hallowell

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?

The Beginnings of The Elven Dilemma

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.