A Little Late for an Update!

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!

Thanks for all the love and support!


Hitting Goals and Changing Things Up

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 the novel.

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.

© 2018 Robert Hallowell

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).

The Journey to The Elven Dilemma

“A story of good versus evil could not be more complicated. When eighteen-year-old elf twins are forced from their home to don the mantle of the Protector and follow a quest to save their land from the Chosen One, the duo must begin making choices that will change their lives forever. Did I mention one of them is mortal? Long story. On their way, Valkan and Veronia make friends and find love, but are they willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to save their land? Will an unlikely ally be enough to tip the scale in their favor? Is this battle even worth fighting? The Elven Dilemma follows Valkan and Veronia as they fight for good in a land full of ambiguity, and when the battle is at hand, a shift in perspective could mean the difference between victory and defeat.”

Stout Grove, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park © Robert Hallowell

I began writing this story 18 years ago. Through the years as I have grown, this story has grown with me and has survived many a hiatus, allowing me to graduate from high school and college, pursue a career, start grad school, and find love (mostly in that order). And as I’ve fallen back into the writing groove, I’ve realized that this story has saved me many times over. Whenever I’m feeling lost and can’t seem to find my way in the dark, I remember the journey that I have been on these last 18 years. I remember that life is all about that journey, and sometimes we have to trudge through the darkness to appreciate the light.

It is precisely that journey that I wanted to highlight in The Elven Dilemma. Sure, we all want to reach the end, the final destination, the X on the map, but embracing the journey is sometimes just as important as completing it. So what if we lose ourselves along the way? So what if we become a different person by the time we reach the end? So what if our stories don’t turn out the way we planned? We can get through all of this if we live in the moment, embrace change, and open our hearts to the journey.