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.

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).

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!

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.