A young fairy, a deadly secret, and an elusive agency watching everything and everyone. How much would you risk to uncover the truth? Emmaline's nightmares of raging fires are the least of her problems. Between her telekinetic sisters and her personal bully, Shadela, Emmaline rarely has a moment's peace. Worse yet, her curiosity keeps landing her in the wrong place at the wrong time with disastrous results. As societal expectations clash with her inquisitive nature, Emmaline wrestles with the consequences of her actions. Will her closest friends abandon her when she needs them most? Will she be able to protect her family from those hunting her? Above all, will the greatest home-tree in the valley explode in flames as Emmaline so desperately fears? An extraordinary adventure exploring the reaches of trust, friendship, and faith, NeverSeen is sure to sweep you off your feet and send you soaring through a world that isn't so different from our own. NeverSeen is the first installment of the Faeland Legends. Available everywhere: books2read.com/u/38rdYV
Are you, like me, prone to waking in the night? People talk about "the stillness of the night" as if it's common...normal. For me, even when it might in fact be quiet to my ear, it's not always quiet to my mind. So, night noise isn't always audible. Sometimes it's internal. Even spiritual. In this excerpt we observe Ashleeka get up to write a poem in the middle of the night. Who was she listening to? Which begs the question...what are you listening to? Or who? ~Taylor (Please follow me on Bublish) #nightnoise #listening #whisperedpoems #stillness #voices #TruthIsaPerson #NeverForget #TruthHasaName #TrueLove
This weekend many will honor the life-changing events of 20 years ago, and the many lives lost. Who could have foreseen that now, there are some who argue that the horrific details should be toned down so as not to offend? Perhaps you feel it in your bones, too. There's a storm coming. It is on the horizon already. To ignore it carries dire consequences. Like Emmaline in this scene, we're confronted by our own Hall of Silence. But then ours is not a sanctuary. It is something quite different in nature and intent. I hope you enjoy this brief excerpt and grab a copy of my book. ~Taylor #stormcoming #sanctuary #HallofSilence #submission #consequences #righteousness #Remember #TruthIsaPerson #NeverForget #TruthHasaName #TrueLove
It's comforting to believe that when people seek justice that are actually seeking after what is just. But that's not always true. There's loads of evidence to the contrary. Indeed, far too often in the history of the world, "justice" is nothing more than those in power utilizing a system named "Justice" to ruthlessly enforce their will. Like in this scene... I hope you enjoy this brief excerpt and grab a copy of my book. ~Taylor #justice #righteousness #bejust #love
Acting without thought is generally inadvisable. Doing so usually leads to consequences that you don’t want, and probably can’t reverse. You’re supposed to look before you leap and wait to count your chickens (and your checkbook) until you’ve got something to count. But in a life and death situation, where you have only moments at your disposal, you may have no choice. Sometimes, there is no time for a well-formulated response. Sometimes, the only time you have IS to respond. No loitering. No thinking. Just reacting. There is no time for hesitation, no time for caution, and no time for plans…or apologies. #survival #notimeforcaution #fallbackontraining
The beginning of NeverSeen came from a simple idea: I had a story to tell. At the time, I thought it was a story I wanted to tell other people; that was true then, and it is still true now. But as I scrapped concepts that never panned out, rewrote conversations and scenes, and slogged through a plot that refused to make itself clear, I realized something about this story I was writing. I was writing for an audience of one: myself. If I didn’t enjoy the story I was telling, why would anyone else? If I could churn out a tacky dystopian supernatural romance, just like hundreds of other authors, then what was the point? My simple idea quickly exploded into something much bigger-a world of faeries and fantastic beasts of my own making, a world teaming with equal doses of magic and technology, a world where anything I imagined could become real. My simple idea became a complicated realm…a Faeland realm. Suddenly, it was not so hard to imagine my simple idea unfolding into a series of seven epic novels. And it all started with a simple phrase: “My eyes flew open as I choked on thick, black smoke...” #simpleidea #bigplans #amwriting #FaelandLegends
If there is one writing tactic I learned from Shakespeare, it’s introducing doubt in the mind of the reader. Most stories are told in a way that makes you completely believe everything the main character says and does; their experiences are perfectly perceived, their motives exactly what they claim them to be. But that, I realized, would be a little too easy for Emmaline. After all, she begins the book with a nightmare, a nightmare that haunts her every day, skewing her view of friends, family, and the unfolding events of NeverSeen. That’s why I toggle between first-person and third-person point of view; I want readers to see the world through different sets of eyes. Is the view still distorted? Absolutely. But the more lenses you look through, the more you see clearly. Don’t forget to doubt your own motives; don’t hesitate to challenge your assumptions. They are façades worthy of examination. Because all of us are far more flawed than we’d like to admit. #doubtful #motivecheck #facades
The phrase that a single spark can start a fire may be overused, but it is nonetheless true. In southern Idaho, amongst other places in the American Midwest, this is no more true than in the season we are in right now: fire season. Everything is dry, we’ve broken a multitude of heat records already this year, and stuff spontaneously ignites if you look at it harshly. This is high desert country, after all! But despite the fiery elements of NeverSeen, I relate this phrase to my story more in the metaphorical sense. After all, it is Emmaline’s persistence in investigating that ultimately gets her into trouble. Had she not remained curious about the oddities of her world, but instead let her spark go out, life would have unfolded in a predictable way. A comfortable way. But as Emmaline comes to discover, the truth will out. And the truth unchained is more voracious than any wildfire. #sparkswillfly #truthwillout #fairies #faith #fortitude #FaelandLegends #NeverSeen
My writing style is unconventional. With NeverSeen, I wrote the beginning, then the end, then the middle, then revised the ending. I originally pictured, at most, three novels. Now, I have seven, five of which are currently in the drafting stage. Why? Because when an apparently random idea that I find compelling takes root in Faeland, it does not let go. I have to find a place for it in the timeline, which is in no small part why Faeland Legends will be seven stories long. I love fantasy and science fiction, so I can’t help but write it. Where are the dividing lines? There are none. Advanced technology stands side-by-side with the Faeland equivalent of superpowers. In future sequels, there will be thorough sprinklings of steampunk, action-adventure, even heist and thriller themes. I could have chosen to be pulled in every direction, pursuing all my interests independently. Instead, I let them compliment each other, expanding the vast network of ideas that I love. That way, I can share them with you, and give you reason to love them too. :) #unconventional #amwriting #epicfantasy #sciencefantasy #sciencefiction #YAadventure Get the first three chapters of NeverSeen for free at taylorhunterauthor.com!
Work today was a slog. Part of my job is creating drawings for the parts we manufacture, and in the past year, we’ve had major breakthroughs in the engineering department on how to make that process faster and more efficient. But it was still a slog. I poured all my energy into cranking out drawings as fast as I could, but after an entire day’s effort, I achieved a fraction of what I’d hoped for. Because that’s just how some days go. You have a massive pile of work in front of you, and no amount of complaining will make it diminish or (better yet) vanish from your plate. So what do you do? You knuckle down, crank up the music, and slog. Nobody else can slog through the work for you. Nobody can force you to make that decision. But it IS a decision. That’s a core characteristic of Emmaline. That’s a core characteristic of myself. Is that a core characteristic of you? #knuckledown #presson #pressforward #slogging #furtherupfurtherin
Nobody exists in a vacuum. The year of 2020 proved that, if nothing else. We do not function well when cut off from other people, especially those we love. Sometimes these barriers are spacial, separated by long drives, time zones, or still-existing travel restrictions. Sometimes these barriers are relational; conflict between branches of family members or communication issues with friends are, unfortunately, common experiences. But sometimes these barriers are self-imposed. Overwhelmed, we shut down and push everyone away. We don’t answer the phone. We don’t reply to text messages for days. We go places where there is nobody to recognize us, where we can exist with others while being left alone. This isolation is sometimes necessary; whether a new life development or an ongoing challenge, we need the time and space to process it before opening up to those who care about us. But some people never open up. Some people choose to lock it up inside, never letting it see the light of day. Perhaps those people fear judgment, or dismissal, or fear itself. These people concern me the most. Because nobody should feel they must exist in a vacuum. And I hope that throughout Faeland Legends, that message is made clear to my readers. #notinavacuum #openup #friendshipsmatter
How do you stay standing when the world is constantly shifting? At a moment’s notice, I can be thrown back in time to a specific day in elementary school, or the last evening of one year’s summer camp, or a math class in junior high. I can hear three notes of a song and immediately be cast back to the first time I heard it. I can think of so many things so quickly that I forget how it started and where it was initially going. My trains of thoughts derail constantly…except when they don’t. Following a specific line of thought is how I got my idea for NeverSeen and stuck with it, writing and rewriting and editing until it was a published novel. That’s how I survived a 4-year engineering degree. When I can muster all my thoughts in one place and the determination to do something with them, I can get plenty done. The challenge is commandeering the strings of my brain and mastering the disorganized chaos therein. This is also a challenge for my main character, Emmaline; considering she is based off my teenaged self, this is not terribly surprising! #distractions #disorganized #chaoticbrain #schoolishard
Writing drama for drama’s sake is an activity I specifically avoid. The same goes for writing distress. Certain authors choose to employ distress to get the audience to care about the character. Unfortunately, this frequently applies to paranormal-romance-type stories: girl hears of hot boy, girl wants to date hot boy, girl is distressed that he has not taken notice of her, hot boy is distressed when he does notice her…blah, blah, blah! Distress can become the calling card of a character, the only thing people remember when they walk away. A person in constant distress without a reasonable source is, frankly, just a pain to be around! If you’re going to write distress, it has to come from a place of importance: a major relational hurdle, a decisive final, an impending medical report. All of these are worthy of causing distress, to the degree that makes sense for the character’s goals and their methods of handling stress. But a meaningless comment that was not even directed at them? That does not make sense. First, put yourself in their shoes…then decide if distress is a viable response, and how much. Enough with shouting for the sake of volume; let’s write shouting for the sake of venting fear, of recognizing anger, of crying out for help. #amwriting #distress #properwriting #respectcharacters #nervoussystems
I don’t like writing emotion that does not have a purpose. Everybody experiences mood shifts, but plenty of them have trivial causes: you didn’t get any donuts at work today (or too many!), someone interrupted an important train of thought to introduce another important train of thought, or the radio commentator mentioned a hilarious quote that instantly improved your mood. None of these are wrong to include in a story, but-in my opinion-they should lead somewhere. Drama for the sake of drama gets an author nowhere fast. The reader gets quickly bored of the predictable cycle of friend fights and parental arguments. It’s like listening to that one annoying relative that never gets to the point of the story. And because nobody likes to hear a run-on tale or endless rant about a minor inconvenience, I avoid letting my words run wild. So I put great effort into conveying emotional encounters that are reasonably intense and concise, while still being relatable. Having a supernatural vision is an uncommon experience…but being embarrassed in front of a crowd is not. #relatable #writingwithpurpose #enoughdrama
Some people love summer and all that it entails-swimming at the beach, playing in warm weather, and camping outdoors. I don't. Summer is by far my least favorite season. I burn instantly, overheat easily, and despise mosquitoes. My best chance at enjoying summer is avoiding it as much as possible. I hide in the shade, or better yet, inside where the air conditioning keeps me from spontaneously combusting. When I do venture outdoors, I plaster on sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats, with the goal of getting back inside as quickly as possible. Yes, summer is here, and I'll spend the entirety of it trying to beat the heat. Which is my least favorite hobby in the world. At least there's ice cream to knock off summer's keen edge. #summerishere #ihatesummer #beatingtheheat #icecream
Writing is not for everyone; that's why so few people do. Reading should be for everyone, but some struggle to find books that keep their interest, and others just don't want to put in the effort. Then there are those who read the book from cover to cover and entirely miss the point. One reviewer told me that fairies “don’t eat chicken”. Well, they do in my story! Because that’s how I wanted to write it. That’s the point of writing my story…it’s MY STORY. And as its author, I have the right to tell it in the way I feel called to. As such, there will be readers that decide they don’t like my story, that it’s “not for them.” And as much as I like to please readers, I know not everyone will like it. But that’s okay. If I tried writing a story that appealed to every person on the planet, it would never get written–and if it did, it would be the most boring piece of literature ever written. I write the stories that I want to read. And I don’t read boring stories. So with that knowledge, will you read my story? Do you accept the risk that comes with it? This story isn’t for everyone…but it could be for you. :)
Pain is a part of life. It may not be constant in our own lives, but it’s not hard to find in the world around us. And it’s a constant reminder that the world around us is broken. If it were not broken, there would be no pain. Or rather, if *we* were not broken, there would be no pain. For we are a broken race, through and through. Many argue that people by nature have a tendency towards good, but a short review of the history of humankind proves otherwise. Doing the right thing is the often the hardest thing to do…in no small part, because it so often invites some level of pain. Maybe the right thing today is just saying no to that second donut-despite knowing how tasty it is. Maybe the right thing is making a commitment to a job you aren’t thrilled about. Maybe the right thing is admitting a mistake…and accepting the consequences. All hard...and all painful. Life is short, too short to run away from trials and tribulations. But we can choose how to handle the pain. Will you grow your compassion and learn from your experiences? Or will you do like so many, and be content to actively wallow in your misery? #endurance #compassion #pain #growthmindset
As an avid reader, one aspect that drove me crazy was how often main characters, especially children and teenagers, were written with little to no emotion, or loads of it. As in, a perpetually swinging pendulum of feelings. Which, in some cases, is accurate - but that makes it very difficult to relate to in the context of a story. After all, to function properly in day-to-day life, one must be able to reign in one's emotions and interact properly with others. So, as a writer, I tried to take care when writing scenes with strong emotion. Because emotion does not occur without reason. Sometimes the reason is not clear to the reader, but there should be some hints to the source. In this case, my main character has just experienced the worst nightmare of her life - and though the reader has no context for what she saw, I did my best to make it abundantly clear how horrifying it was. Raw emotion has its place in writing - but less is more. #amwriting #rawemotion #fear
When I wrote this section, I was still in high school and had no idea I would end up working in a manufacturing position that entails going into the shops on a regular basis. The top priority where I work is safety - in the shops, all workers wear specific shoes, gloves, safety glasses, and helmets appropriate to the task at hand. We make a great effort to meet safety standards for both legal and moral reasons - we care about our coworkers and want them to leave at the end of the day the same way that they arrived. Not so in NeverSeen! Though I never expressly say so, I wanted to make it clear that NeverSeen was not as utopic as it seems to appear. Instead of having personal protective equipment (PPE), all the workers in this production site are encased by thick glass…while the observers are safe from the heat and sparks, the workers are kept from leaving the area if it becomes unsafe. Which it already is. Yikes! #safetyfirst #PPE #manufacturing #fantasynovel #amwriting
Writing is not my day job. I love my day job, but some days I feel like everything is on fire. Thankfully, my coworkers usually agree, and we manage to have a few laughs while we do our best to put out fires. None of what we do is easy or straightforward. We constantly battle misbehaving software, miscommunication, and mishaps in the supply chain. Today, I kept tabs on the first prototype of a new product line - which has already had hiccups in the making of it. But we're catching the mistakes and getting information passed around as needed as quickly as we can. It's hard work. It's hard to keep up the hard work. But when the tension rises, it's easier to deal with when you have a team to back you up. Who do you consider part of your team? #tension #teamwork #collaboration
Unless you're a writer, you can never fully appreciate how hard it is to write...especially, to KEEP writing when you've run out of words, ideas, and motivation. Writing is not a hobby for me; it's a passion. I started writing NeverSeen as a teenager, and it didn't take long for me to realize that my choice to write a book was not a flight of fancy, but a major commitment. Because when you're compelled to write something in the hope of influencing the world for the better, you can't just go halfway. You must go the distance. And until you've made that commitment as a writer, you'll never understand what it means to become an author. Because, oddly enough, being an author is even MORE work: you now have the obligations of proof-reading, editing, interior design, cover design, marketing, sales fulfillment, website & social media management…need I elaborate? Then you have the not-so-minor reality that writing is, most likely, not your primary source of income - and, very likely, never will be. So where does that leave you? Working hard for minimal pay, simply because you cannot do otherwise. You think writing is easy? Give it a try. Then do a double take. Because it really is that much work – and I do it voluntarily! #amwriting #hardwork #gothedistance
As electronic devices do from time to time, the computer Emmaline is attempting to use does not behave correctly. In my experience with computers both as a writer and an engineer, a good restart usually solves the issue. But not always. Sometimes the hardware has received physical damage. Sometimes the software has a bug in the code. And sometimes - in my opinion - there are gremlins running loose, causing mayhem to the device as a whole. I believe that may have happened to a particular device of mine quite recently. But no matter! Regardless of the outcome, I will survive. #technology #glitches #dumbdevices
In many supernatural tales, there are characters with ESP - extra-sensory perception - that can detect invisible threats, far-off events, and even predict catastrophes before they happen. These kinds of sensory anomalies are wide-spread in literature and media, and for good reason: they add complexity and intrigue to both the characters and plot, and make the story more compelling. Yet we often forget that there are many people in real life that sense differently from us. Some are deaf. Some are blind. Some are mute. In a world full of people that sense differently from most, it only *makes sense* to include them in our stories. After all, why wouldn't you? #amwriting #sense #inclusion #notsupernatural #deafcharacters #mutecharacters #blindcharacters
In an era where knowledge is power and technology is its unceasing conduit, you’d think there would be a lot more clarity about the state of the world. Instead, we find a hot mess of conflicting stories, laced with agendas designed to convince us of a specific worldview. If you don’t think that’s the goal of mainstream media, read carefully. Listen purposefully. Treat all articles and news quips like venomous reptiles – approach with great caution. Don’t just absorb the information, study it…and study it well. Hidden behind a veneer of human welfare and enlightenment lie the most precarious of traps, snares that enslave, degrade, and destroy lives of all kinds, in all places. There have been - and continue to be - ulterior motives at work in our world. Be aware. Be attentive. Be vigilant, lest you fall victim to the deceptive powers that be. Want to read more? Pop over to my website to download the first five chapters of NeverSeen for free! https://www.taylorhunterauthor.com/neverseen-starter/ #ulteriormotives #bevigilant #worldviews #takingoffence #beware #epicfantasy #NeverSeen #FaelandLegends #novelseries
Every March 17th, we celebrate little green leprechauns, shamrocks, and pots of gold. But few besides appreciators of Irish heritage may understand the significance of the celebration. The origin of the day is rooted in St. Patrick, who - at age 16 - was captured by Irish raiders and spent 6 years as a prisoner before escaping...then RETURNED to Ireland 15 years later with the distinct purpose of ministering to the Irish. There was no luck involved in his choices; there was faith, fortitude, and forgiveness. After the events of the past year, many of us may feel lucky to be alive. To have a roof over our head. To have food on the table. A sense of luck is valid. But luck has nothing to do with our response to crisis. Not just global ones, but everyday minor ones – the ones that disrupt our sleep, alter our bank accounts, and pose risk to our loved ones. When something unexpected rips life out from under us, we may not be able to stop our fall, but we can choose how to respond: whether to get up and get on with it - or to continue laying there waiting for somebody to heave us onto a nearby chair. What's your response? #stpatrick #Irishheritage #luck #fortitude #FaelandLegends #NeverSeen #epicfantasy #YAnovels #readabook #fantasywriter
It was really great to be published at 17. Since then, though, I more deeply understand why some writers don't get published until they're in their 40s or 50s or more. It's more than just the writing, you see. It requires disturbing your peace. It requires habits, and skills and probably a new strategy. But always it needs time. Lots of it. Consequently, I have 2 IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENTS for you. First, after...ahem...7 years since NeverSeen went to the editor, book 2 is going to my lovely and wonderful editor. Woot! Going to college really did delay my authorly progress. But now I have a degree, so there's that. Second, during those 7 years, I developed a course for young writers (and older ones, too) but I have been remiss in sharing them with you: https://www.taylorhunterauthor.com/fantasy-writing-publishing-courses. BTW, I hope you enjoy this excerpt! ~Taylor ???? #peace #disturbing #patience #pantser #finally #writing #writingcourses #dystopian #fairies #fantasy #NeverSeen #adventure #paranormal #fae #college #goals #teensandyoungadults #childrensebook #readabook #awardwinning
Picking up on my last book bubble ("The Madness Within"), isn't this a brilliant title? OK...you're right. Because these days the definition of "tools" is more, well, expansive than it once was. In the case of this book bubble, I refer to "tools" in the old fashioned way. In other words, "implements of the trade." Which in my case means tools for writing. I lean toward what's referred to as "pantsing," which is to say, "writing by the seat of my pants." Or to put it another way, I don't go through extensive work at "plotting out" my stories. However, a very cool tool I've been using for about a year now is called Plottr. Even for a pantser this is an epic tool, especially for taming storylines over a series. Another tool I'm using more of is Pinterest, both for researching and sharing. You can find me there at taylorhunterauthor. Another tool I use is my website (link is to the left). Other “tools” include sleep and alarm clocks! ???? I hope you like this bubble. Why not buy a copy of the book? ~Taylor ????#tools #nonotthatkind #toolsofthetrade #pantser #writing #dystopian #fairies #fantasy #NeverSeen #adventure #paranormal #fae #teensandyoungadults #childrensebook #readabook #awardwinning
Few can appreciate the massive challenge of writing well. Anyone can follow a formula, using a drag-and-drop method to their plot and characters, build-up and payoff...and that's not a bad thing. But to write characters and situations that interest the reader - and writing characters IN situations that compel the reader to keep reading - is a constant wrestling match. How much of myself am I allowed to inject into this? It is my story, after all - I wrote NeverSeen to give myself something to read, something that wasn't jammed full of twinkly vampires and highly questionable teen behavior. I write because I need to process what's happening around me, both within and without. This scene is a more visceral example of what I want to capture in my writing: kids living through and coping with nightmares of all proportions, and trying to grow stronger in response. #nightmares #madness #anxiety #epicfantasy #FaelandLegends #NeverSeen #tweensandteens
Valentine's Day has come and gone, but most people, I think, are still wandering through their daily routines with a lingering shroud. What might that shroud be? For some, the excitement of a group video chat still buzzing in their ears. Others, the remnants of a conversation echoing in the hollows of their mind - perhaps a conversation that was unexpected, for the best, didn't go according to plan, didn't happen at all...fill in the blank for yourself. Regardless of what did or did not happen on Valentine's day, the underlying premise of it - of expressing appreciation and love and friendship to those we care about - still remains in our daily encounters. We want to be seen. We want to be heard. But we must first remember that to be seen, we must see others first. Because if we don't take time to see others first, how can we honestly expect to be seen in return? Take time to examine your eyesight - consider the needs of those around you, and how you might better tend to them. Doing so on a daily basis encourages a compassionate heart and a patient spirit. And these days especially, we could all use some more of that. #doyousee #seenandheard #compassion
My generation, fair or not, is identified as being all about "the feels." Certainly, there are many things for us (and every other generation, for that matter) to have strong feelings about. The problem, of course, is when the feels rise to a level higher than "the thinks" (forgive me). Feelings are fleeting, and wildly ephemeral. They come and go like the wind. These days, thinking is not valued much, if at all. That's dangerous to all of our futures. But if we must favor "the feels" over "the thinks," let's choose to feel empathy. From Wiki: "Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, that is, the capacity to place oneself in another's position." Empathy comes from a place of love, rather than a place of anger. That's why empathy is of unmatched value. And unmatched power. I hope you like this excerpt and consider getting a copy of the story for a friend. ???? ~Taylor #empathy #valued #thefeels #thethinks #love #loveinaction #generations #valentinesday #courage #worthy #unique #dystopian #fairies #fantasy #NeverSeen #adventure #paranormal #fae #teensandyoungadults #childrensebook #readabook #awardwinning
It's a funny thing, really. When I wrote this scene I wasn't all that much older than my eight-year old character. Though I'm now much older, there's still a part of me that remains an eight-year old. It was Mr. Rogers, I think, who said "You're every age you've ever been.” But he may have gotten that idea from the great author, Madeleine L'Engle. At any rate, it's true. And it's not just about our age, it's about our person... who we are at each stage of life... what makes us unique... what makes us special. Here we see Ashleeka wistfully thinking about having a "normal life." Yet even as I wrote those words down as a young person myself, it was clear that being "normal" is far less important than being "seen." So, dear reader, especially my young reader, I have you in mind as I write... because I see you. Make it your life's purpose to see others, too. We all long to be seen. ???? ~Taylor #valentinesday #seen #beyourself #courage #worthy #unique #dystopian #fairies #fantasy #NeverSeen #adventure #paranormal #fae #teensandyoungadults #childrensebook #readabook #awardwinning
In a few days, in America we'll be celebrating "Groundhog Day." This has been going on since 1887, so it's a thing. According to the legend, if the wee critter sees its shadow on February 2nd (the midpoint between the winter and spring equinox), there will be six more weeks of winter. Why? No idea. But it got me thinking about our world right now, and how this Groundhog Day feels more like an important metaphor. What kind of “shadow” might we see? How many weeks...or months...or years will it last? In this excerpt from NeverSeen, Raven is expecting to get kicked in the head. Again. Not pleasant. And not unlike the world these days. There's so much that's not pleasant it takes focus, grit and courage to meet each day's challenges. My hope for you is that, like Raven, you roll out of bed and face them boldly. ???? ~Taylor #groundhogday #2021 #grit #focus #courage #dystopian #fairies #fantasy #NeverSeen #adventure #paranormal #fae #teensandyoungadults #childrensebook #readabook #awardwinning
The decade thus far has been fraught with transitions, many of which have been equal parts unforeseen and unpleasant. We've shifted from ordinary life to social-distanced dances, from in-person chats to virtual meetings; the goalposts for lockdowns keep moving. But the greatest global transition is, perhaps, how we think about others. The pandemic inflicted a dramatic shift in worldview for many, bringing to light what has always been true...that mortality is a condition we all face. Yet some seem to live under the impression that this reality does not apply to them, that the suffering of others is just that - "It can't possibly happen to me," they think. Entire industries have been dedicated to products claiming to boost this, diminish that, all in the name of minimizing suffering. Yet some of the greatest transitions we can make involve great suffering. To build endurance, we must first sweat; to develop perseverance, we must first fall; to grow compassionate spirits, we must first walk the narrow path. Not all transitions are sought out, but we can choose what kind of person we become through it.
2020 complicated life more than anyone expected. Supply chains, transportation, and even weekly trips to the grocery store were disrupted. More than anything, our perception of "normal" was thrown out the window. Nothing is straightforward anymore. Nothing is simple. At least, not without deliberate intention. Getting food may require more strategy, but eating it with the people we care about doesn't have to. Conversation about the things that matter to us don't have to stop just because we're six feet apart. The world is full of social angst and political tension, yes - but we don't need to surrender our hopes and dreams to it. Joy and laughter should not be put on hold - in fact, they should be more emphasized; more duly celebrated. The simple things in life are often the most important things. Let us endeavor to lean into that in this coming year.
2020 may be (finally) behind us, but we are by no means out of the woods. In fact, after the past week, there is reason to believe 2020 was just a tasting of the year to come. Like Emmaline, you may feel that you are fighting to stay at the top of a steep slope, crawling on all fours to get away from the pit. While sobering, that is not a mindset I choose to take. Fear, as we've seen for months now, does not allow for clear thinking. It roots us in the here and now, as opposed to what lies beyond. CS Lewis wisely said, "There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind." No matter what turns this year takes, let us remember to hold onto hope. #hope #2021 #herewego #slipperyslope #fantasy #adventure #readabook #tweensandteens
By the time you see this, it may already be 2021. If so, I wish you a wonderful new year. But, if 2021 is anything like 2020 has been, you may face unexpected challenges or even nasty surprises. In this scene, Emma discovers she must, unexpectedly, complete a difficult test. Some looked for 2020 to be the year of clarity. You know...2020 vision, and all that. Well, we can certainly see somethings MUCH more clearly now than 12 months ago. How I wish what we now see very clearly was more encouraging for the future. But, ultimately, like Emma staring down her test, we all must face our own "tests." You'll have to get the book to see how Emma did. ;-) And in your case, may you always be ready. Always. This life is not as good as it gets. The best is on the other side. So, be ready for that, too. #beready #2021 #HappyNewYear #fairies #2020goodriddance #fantasy #NeverSeen #adventure #dystopian #paranormal #fae #teensandyoungadults #childrensebook #readabook #awardwinning
Christmas Day marks the time we remember the birth of Jesus Christ. This year, we have far more reason to remember and rejoice in this event. While civil and political unrest abound and the world is overturned by pandemic, none of these calamities are new to the world. They are but consistent reminders that the world is fallen, and discomforting reminders that no amount of well-wishing, do-gooding, and virtue-signaling will save us from our own disgrace. That is why, over 2000 years ago, a Child was born in Bethlehem, to do for us what we are utterly incapable of doing for ourselves. He was born to be our light in the darkness, and hope for the hopeless. With this, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas! #ChristmasDay #Rejoice #John1:5 #LightInTheDarkness #LightWins #hope #fantasy #adventure #fairies #teensandyoungadults #ReadABook
In the next week, you may be reminded about the wise men that sought out the babe they had heard about. It's an important part of the Christmas story, these fellows who traveled long and far to find the one they sought. In this excerpt from NeverSeen, Emma seeks to recall something clear, something having to do with love, something to do with peace. As we near the end of 2020 (yay!), it might be that, like Emma, you're seeking to recall these things, too. They've been hard to find this year. In the case of the wise men, they sought a specific Someone that clearly had everything to do with peace and love. We would be wise to do the same. But like them, we need to seek in order to find. Merry Christmas! #fairies #NeverSeen #fantasy #adventure #dystopian #paranormal #fae #teensandyoungadults #childrensebook #christmas #readabook #awardwinning
Have you seen the news that the Bethlehem Star will be visible on December 21st...for the first time in 800 years? The last time this happened was in 1226! As we near Christmas, a holy day for hundreds of millions of people around the earth, why not pause for a moment and reflect on the shepherds watching over their flocks by night some two thousand years ago? Even Linus talks about it in The Charlie Brown Christmas Special, when he reads from the Gospel of Luke. The shepherds would have seen a great light, piercing through a deep night sky, just as we will hopefully be able to do, too, after an 800 year wait. In their time, the star announced the arrival of one who put his life on the line...for everyone. In this excerpt from NeverSeen, Shadela understood the importance of someone putting their life on the line for someone else. Even more important is that we all understand—and receive—the heavenly gift announced 2000 years ago. Like the shepherds, we can see the Bethlehem Star. But we have already seen a great light. #greatlight #fantasy #truth #NeverSeen #fairies #fae #faeland #awardwinningnovel #Christmas
Have you heard the phrase (or seen the meme) that says something like, "We're drowning in information but dying for a drink of wisdom"? In this scene, Nicholas exhibits what too many people do with this dilemma of drowning in information while thirsting for wisdom: he ignores both. Until he can't any more. Don't be like Nicholas. Look into it ...whatever "it" is. I hope you enjoy this book bubble. Grab a copy of my story to see how it goes for dear, dim Nicholas. ???? #wisdom #information #fantasy #fairies #adventure #dystopian #drowning #NeverSeen #readagreatbook #awardwinning #lookintoit
The concept of courage has been massively distorted in recent days. Condemning others for what they believe—and who they believe in—is labeled as courage. Committing arson against businesses run by such people is labeled as courage. Calling them every deplorable name and vilifying their very existence is labeled as courage. This kind of 'courage' is both praised and demanded by political puppet-masters; anyone that speaks against the narrative is suppressed by social media ‘platforms’ that claim to be unbiased. The old kind of courage—they say—is an abomination: racist, bigoted, sexist, and xenophobic. This form of courage is no longer a trait worthy of recognition—it is an evil construct deserving to be crushed underfoot by the march of social progress...or so they want us to believe. But true courage is not the invention of one branch of the human race. True courage is the expression of the human spirit to persevere through trials; to stand for what is morally right, not just what is culturally lauded. The cost of true courage has always been high, but today—more than ever—we must be willing to pay the price. If we allow the powers that be to silence us now, we may never get the chance to speak again. #fantasy #courage #choices #somethinggreater #dontbeasheep
As we close in on Thanksgiving Day, 2020, the least of the things I am thankful for...is that we've just about made it to Thanksgiving Day, 2020. ???? There have been a bunch of days this year that left me wondering. You? Anyway, it's been a fiery kind of year, so I'm bringing you a bombastic book bubble blurb (say that real fast 5 times!) that fits the torched mood of 2020. I wish you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving Day next week, even if you don't celebrate it on the same day as we do in the US. #thanksgivingday #epic #dystopian #givethanks #fiery #fantasy #fairy #readagreatbook #award-winning #NeverSeen
I'm writing this book bubble on ...(cue up creepy music) Friday the 13th, 2020. Normally, I shrug off all Friday the 13ths. But this one is actually kind of creepy because it is, well, 2020. In this scene, my band of intrepid characters are searching for a place they're not sure they really want to go. Wouldn't it would be nice if we had a magical necklace that glowed to alert us to danger? But what would that necklace be alerting us to THIS year? Especially on Friday the 13th? By the way, what's that sound? #creepy #epic #fantasy #paranormal #dsytopian #fantasy #award-winning #strong #girlpower #fairies #readabook #faith #fortitude books2read.com/u/38rdYV
Are you as ready to ring in 2021 as I am? Probably not because you're SO excited about the new year as you are with dumping this one, right? At least for me, this year—2020—has been a lot like this scene. Emma's already experienced unrelenting stress up to this point, but now she's about to face something even worse: the "Hall of Silence" is anything but quiet. Can you guess what sounds fill the space? Why not grab a copy of my book and find out? #happyhalloween #fairy #readanovel #dystopian #frightful #notyournansfairytale #doors #doom #2020
In Tolkien's "the Two Towers," King Theoden makes a speech on the great wall of Helm's Deep, as he stares out upon a vast sea of orcs, all bent on the destruction of humans. The King says, "Their courage hangs by a thread! If this is to be our end, then I would have them make such an end, as to be worthy of remembrance." I love that scene. In many ways, we see a similar coming-to-terms with a difficult reality, as Emma begins to sort out what happened to her and her friends. Terrible things. Even horrific things. But also their acts of great courage in the face of such insane violence... indeed, such brave and selfless acts "as to be worthy of remembrance." May we do the same with each day of our lives. #fantasy #remembrance #LOTR #glimpses #meaning #live #purpose #choices #focus #somethinggreater
Throwbacks come in many forms - old songs can give a throwback to your younger years, old photos can provide a throwback to eras long gone. Throwbacks can also be witty and wry exchanges between friends or enemies, or friends AND enemies. There are many verbal volleys between characters throughout NeverSeen - most inspired by listening to constant conversations in high school. Rarely did I "throw back" myself, but by studying the people I was surrounded by, I began to know them better. If only people as a whole were more willing to listen to what was being said - and not be so eager to throw back.
The world has always been askew on its axis - but now, we're experiencing more than just the changing seasons. Our paradigm has been altered by pandemic, social upheaval, and supply chain disruption, among other things we once counted as givens. Every time we enter a store, we don masks and search for hand soap. The type of deli meat and cold salads we can get varies daily; shelves where all-purpose cleaning supplies remain bare. Want to clean your toilet? No problem. Want to wash your windows? Easy peasy. Want to wipe down your kitchen counters? Good luck. Lately, all I've really wanted is to cleanse my mind and soul of the grime this world continues to dish out, but I don't think Mr. OxiClean can help there. So, I continue forward, spinning along like a gyroscope - off-kilter, but not falling.
Skyglass is the largest tree in NeverSeen. Combination home-tree, house of worship, and stronghold, it is the center point of NeverSeen both literally and figuratively. It is also a major character in the story. How could a tree be a character? Because Skyglass is always in the background of faery life - and always in the foreground of Emmaline's nightmares. Skyglass is infused with magic - like the home-tree in Tinkerbell's Pixie Hollow. Skyglass is also assumed to be a permanent feature, like the home-tree in James Cameron's Avatar. These were two crucial points to me when writing NeverSeen. Normal expectations would involve Emmaline rushing to save the day and becoming her people's heroine. This did not sit well with me - instinct told me that Skyglass mattered too much to go unscathed. And if Skyglass had to face destruction, then so did Emmaline. After that became clear to me, so did the rest of the plot; there was no other story to tell.
How many times have you read a book with a female main character and immediately been presented with a love triangle? How many times have you immediately wanted to throw said book out the window because of this? I think most people realize that love triangles rarely, if ever, exist in real life – and if they do, they are far more convoluted than your standard “two boys fighting for her attention” plotline. Thus, I chose to avoid romantic plot entanglement entirely. Emmaline is teen fairy with strong convictions and a drive to seek the truth; while she may be interested in a relationship, she also recognizes she does not have the mental or emotional bandwidth to handle it at the present time. She’s far too focused on saving lives - and staying alive herself - to allow such thoughts to linger.
Animals are, in some ways, the most blessed creatures in the world. They face daily challenges of not just surviving, but thriving - just as we do. But they do not linger on past mistakes; they learn. They do not project their fears into the future; tomorrow is not here yet. Instead, they live in the moment - this moment, and this moment alone. Perhaps we can learn from this very present state of mind...and none too soon. So much has unfolded so quickly that it is nearly impossible to keep pace with. Thus, it is all the more important to recalibrate our fast-paced brains to the situation at hand - not the one from yesterday or last week, or the one that might happen tomorrow. Starting each day, each moment, each interaction with a clean slate may be a lot to ask for, but it is nonetheless worthy to strive for. Let us take on the wisdom of animals, and move forward one step at a time.
The ease of offence has, as of late, overridden nearly all semblance of logic. Mass media propagates this by feeding the social engine with skewed reporting and unbridled rage. No matter where you look, someone - or rather, a large collection of someone's - is screaming for dramatic and immediate change, supposedly for the better. What unfolds, however, is a caustic outburst of violence resulting from a catastrophic failure to listen. When anger is constant, logic has no voice. And where offence lives, there is no room for compassion. Do you want things to be different? Do you want to play a role in improving the situation? Then step back and cool off. Listen - and listen well - before saying anything. Resist the impulse to fire back - that is how we got here in the first place. The social engine has great momentum behind it - let us bring it to a halt with the strong and steady force of level heads and open hearts.
One distinct aspect I wanted to capture well throughout my writing were action scenes. They are fun to watch and fun to read - when they are done well. Pacing is everything in a story; if it is too slow, the reader loses interest. Thus, it can be easy to assume that action scenes must have fewer words - nothing could be further from the truth. Like everything else in life, it is not just the number of words we use, but our choice of words themselves. A slew of words can harm, but a handful can heal. In a world full of words at unbearable volume, let us remember the power of the whispered few.
Compassion is a choice. For some, this choice is instinctive; others, not as much as they would like. As much as we may want to be compassionate beings, the world feeds us reason after reason to withhold. Instead of understanding and forgiveness, it offers incense, rage, and thoughtless reaction that only aggravates an already tempestuous situation. That is why compassion is a choice - a choice we must make every day. It takes deliberate effort to turn away from anger and towards the balm that soothes our souls. Let us not be so hasty to tread upon others - let us, instead, offer them open hearts and minds.
The world is full of turmoil. We add to the turmoil when we do not think, when we run with the mob, when we lash out blindly. No issues can be solved when all anyone sees is red. To heal, to forgive, and to help each other move forward, we must stand back from the blistering heat of our individual and collective emotions, and address - with cool heads - the facts at hand. This is easier said than done; this makes it all the more important to do so. #controlyouremotions #engageyourbrain
Like my favorite fantasy stories...well, all stories, really...I wanted my story to also weave a thread through it that keeps you wondering if everything is what it seems to be. It makes for a more compelling tale, don't you think? It's fun when you have to keep guessing what's going on. So, "Are things really as they seem to be?" is a question I want my readers to have in the back of their minds as they're reading. Because it's not just in stories that it's important to keep asking that question. Based on what's happening in our world today, it's more important than ever to ask yourself: "Are things really as they seem to be?" #ask #open #questions #real #false #skeptical #curious #pause #adventure #fantasy #dystopian #stayfrosty
This unprecedented state of chaos is new to the world, but not to me nor my family. For many years now, we've been striving to turn our passions into successful businesses. For just as long, we've been slogging through a near-constant swamp of financial uncertainty and relational disappointment. So when the globe was suddenly thrust into high alert, ordered to isolate, and dismissed from work, very little changed in my household. This surreal existence was not new for us - this was our normal already. And it is for this reason that I feel so strongly for the millions of people around the world - including millions of Americans - that have been and continue to be in a state of suspended animation, with neither financial nor relational security. I grieve with you. I pray for you. I understand what it’s like to have everything you know turned on its head. And while I don’t know you or your exact situation, I offer one piece of advice that I need to remember more myself - When all is darkest, turn your eyes to the light and offer your up burdens in surrender. Then, with a deep breath, take the first step forward.
Life lately has had no shortage of stresses, many of which are beyond our control. It is taxing to the nervous system to combat the vicious fluidity of the situation - so much so that we are easily blind to all else. Do not fall down the slippery slope of anxiety and rage; it is far to easy to hit rock bottom and stay there. Instead, take a deep breath. Ground yourself. Focus on the crest of the hill, where little normalcies still occur, and climb towards it. It may take more effort than you think, but fixing your eyes on the positive will lift your spirits, and sharing curious surprises will bring you and the ones you love unexpected joy.
When I wrote NeverSeen, I was still very much a teenager. In fact, I was only 17 when it was published. Some might say that only from a "sufficient" amount of years (aka life-experience) can anyone tap into their creative muse. Those who would argue this point of view obviously haven't studied much history. Tapping into one's "creative muse" has little to do with age and much to do with connecting things... with observing... with a bit of risk taking... and believing enough in yourself and your characters to go for it. I hope you enjoy this little excerpt. It's one of my favorites. ❤ Why not get a copy for this weekend? #creative #muse #fantasy #epic #fairytale #notnormal #amwriting #teens #youngadult #YA
It's amazing, isn't it, how much of our lives are spent...waiting? More than ever before, around the world, most people spend most of their day...waiting. We wait for the pandemic to end. We wait for test results. We wait to return to school, to work, to our places of worship, to play in the parks, to go to the beach, mountains and lakes. We wait for a time... of doing. In this scene, my goal was to capture a deep sense of the difficulty that surrounds waiting, especially while in the bitter chill of the storm's wind. It seems to me that the world's occupants are in a kind of storm that we all long to be done with. Because the waiting is hard, tiring, and often depressing. So, let's be careful but also do our best to remain patient with others and with ourselves. Maybe read a book. Perhaps even this one! ;-) #epic #storm #patience #waiting #fantasy #pandemic #besafe
There's much in the world now that doesn't make sense. in short, a lot of nonsense. Sadly, a lot of people are so deeply surrendered to their fear that their primary symptom, anger, is seen and felt by anyone that crosses their path. That's why when you're afraid it is so important to stay as grounded as you can, while setting aside as much anger as you can. And when you're in a pinch, take the hand of someone else--or allow yours to be taken, like we see Emma does here with Tracer. Otherwise, you risk falling into nonsense without a pathway back. #stayfrosty #grit #keepthefaith #slowdown #fearisthemindkiller #adventure #fantasy
Depending on where you live, you've been sheltering in place between 4-6 weeks, maybe even up to 8. If you, like me, tend to get bored when there's nothing to do, you're already REALLY tired of the long wait. Of course, the challenge is that no one knows how long the wait will be, ultimately. But as we see in this scene with Nicholas, it's important to stay sharp, to be ready, to remain curious. So, why not change up your pattern this weekend? Do something different! Reach out to a friend. Connect in some new way. And why not grab a copy of NeverSeen? It's a North American Book Awards winner, after all. #fantasy #fairy #dangers #dystopian #adventure #longwait
Life is full of noise. Right now, it is unusually quiet. There are no appointments to rush to, no scheduling conflicts to juggle between kids and cars, no opportunity to march along to the crashing symbols of daily routine. Yet it is in this quiet that we may find we can finally hear the things most precious to our hearts. Instead of resisting the silence by binge-watching another show, allow it to fill you up. Welcome the respite from the noise. Embrace the quietude and the discoveries it can bring. Engage in the activities that you never seem to have time for. Maybe it's chores. Maybe it's reading. Maybe it's just taking time to soak in the sky, to listen to the songs of our souls, songs so often drowned out by everything else.
Do you, like me, wonder what's happened? In just a month, we've gone from our pretty predictable lives, along with our respective complaints about whatever, to Carnigan's response: "Sir. It's gone. There's nothing there." But that's what happens to the best laid plans...life happens. If nothing else, perhaps this experience that the entire world is going through right now might result in less certainty, greater curiosity and vastly more humility. We're never in control as much as we'd like or as much as we pretend. Still, like with all plans, we can adapt and pivot into this challenge. Just hold onto your new plans with a lighter grip. Be well and safe. Reach out. Stay connected because that's always a good plan. #adapt #epic #fantasy
Feel like you're losing your mind? That's going around the world... like a virus. Which, of course, is really happening. Which, of course, doesn't require the losing of one's mind. Like Emma in this frightful scene, we're able to fight against the nightmares--real and imagined. But having others to help us (and we, in turn, help them) makes a huge difference. This weird dream everyone is in doesn't have to be a nightmare. We can learn from it. Become better as a result of it. Find hope. Share hope. Use your favorite social platform to stay connected. Reach out to me if you'd like. I'd love to hear from you. We're all in this together. #keepthefaith #fantasy #adventure #fortitude #grit #virus #wfh #stayhome
Some of my best ideas strike when least convenient - in the middle of a brutal homework assignment, for example. This, however, is indicative of a curious correlation between crisis and creativity: crisis is often solved with creativity, and creativity is often kick-started by crisis. A powerful lesson can be learned from this; whatever crisis we currently face, we have the means to handle it - if we use our heads. And to use our heads, we must first step back from the emotions that so often drive our decisions and allow logic and reason to take the wheel.
When facing great adversity, it is easy to become overwhelmed; even more so when the adversity is greatly anticipated. Thus, it is most crucial that we do not allow ourselves to be swayed by fear to the point of hasty and irrational decisions. In all times and circumstances, our best choices are those we make when we step back and clear our heads. Unfortunately, this does not come naturally; about 70% of all thoughts we have today are identical to those we had yesterday, and most of those are negative. To break this cycle of stinking thinking and respond appropriately to whatever comes our way, we must first recognize there is a cycle to begin with – and strive to confront it daily. To be patient, we must think patient thoughts. To be sanguine, we must think sanguine thoughts. To be faithful, we must think faithful thoughts. But more than this, we must nurture these thoughts so they have fertile soil to take root in. This means taking time - perhaps no more than five minutes every morning - to step back from our emotions and think clearly so that we may act, not react. What we think, so we are; let us foster calm, collected, and logical thoughts so that we may embody these in our daily actions.
Emmaline's small decision to seek the truth proves to impact every citizen of NeverSeen; more so, it forces her friends to make their own decisions well before they want to. But to avoid such decisions is a failure to grow. The opposite of growth is stagnation, and when an individual chooses stagnation over that many-splintered journey of developing into a mature human being, that choice sends out ripples across our culture. Stagnation, as comfortable and easy as it is, comes at a great cost. In a world as interconnected as ours, we must not fail to grow. If we want to see more generosity, we must become more generous. If we want to see more clear-headedness, we must be more clear-headed. If we want to see more patience, understanding, and forgiveness, we must take on those traits first. Our choices reflect on the world around us. So if the world must change (and it will), then let us start that change with ourselves, and consciously choose those attitudes and actions that will ultimately benefit the immeasurable whole.
In the years since first drafting NeverSeen, one of my biggest goals has been to improve dialogue, description, and pacing - in short, everything important in the balancing act of story-telling! I have no shortage of ideas, but conveying those ideas in a compelling and illustrative manner is a great and wonderful challenge. This excerpt is one example of the crisp, clean-cut writing I hope to continue weaving through Faeland Legends...and beyond.
The hunt for evasive quarry can be frustrating; the quest to rescue captives from a secure underground facility even more so. Emmaline's friends seek to salvage the mission at hand, even as time fights them tooth and nail.
I started writing NeverSeen at age 15, but inventing characters off the top of my head was not easy - especially main characters. Thus, I turned to the ultimate source of inspiration: my friends at school. This scene closely resembles the many ridiculous discussions that unfolded during our high school lunch breaks!
When we settle into routines, it's easy to forget the jolting sensation of chaos. These days, there seems to be a paradox - corruption ensues all around us, yet many of us march on with our daily lives as if nothing has changed. So it is with the residents of NeverSeen. Now that Emmaline is their next target, she can see clearly that freedom comes at a price, that truth cannot be silenced, that courage is as simple as refusing to surrender.
We are all connected. This is a critical fact that has become increasingly overlooked, even as social media has overtaken the world. Caustic words can now be voiced from the comforts of home. Destructive behavior can be streamed to every continent without a second thought. Yet we do not consider the faces behind the phones, the people behind the personas. We are connected, yes, but are we relational? To be relational is to be dedicate yourself to someone else, to genuinely engage with another being. Without relationships, we are stranded in a sea of masked faces that mean nothing to us. And when fellow humans mean nothing to us, it is far easier to condemn them.
I've had more than a few experiences in my life that felt surreal - moments of deja-vu, moments disconnected from reality. Having graduated university, landed my first job, and officially entered the realm of adulthood, I feel out-of-body more often than not. Perhaps you feel the same way. When every sure foothold seems to be taken out from under you - friends, family, financial security - it's hard to be certain in anything...or anyone. It can be terrifying, even maddening. It is in this surreal state that we find Emmaline. Even at the start of NeverSeen, she feels out of place, and as the book progresses, she feels more and more out of time. Decisions demand her attention, consequences close in around her, and her entire world comes into question. Yet, she is never alone. And neither are you. Never forget that.
A new year for us, a new friend for Emmaline? Shadela is more than meets the eye, but is her sudden friendliness towards Emmaline genuine...or just another trick?
The conclusion of NeverSeen is full of questions, cryptic answers, and anticipation. The conclusion of this year feels very much the same. Having graduated university and started my first job, time is more available for writing and brainstorming than it was during school. However, there is still a lot for me to learn - taxes and benefits and all kinds of other fun grown-up things. This year has had many highs and many lows, and I welcome the conclusion of the year with the hope that 2020 can become the year that Faeland Legends can take the forefront of my attention. I hope to publish my sequel, Flamerider, and continue writing book 3 so that it may be finished soon as well. In any case, only time can tell how this coming year will unfold, and I will take it, come what may.
When all seems lost, we have a choice to make - a simple choice, yet a crucial one. We can succumb to hardship, yield to hopelessness, bend to the fickle will of the world...or we can fix our eyes and hearts on an everlasting hope, a faith as firm as the foundations of the earth, a light in the darkness . It is with this sentiment that I wrote this passage of NeverSeen. It is also with this sentiment that I wish you all a Merry Christmas.
2019 has been a year of great highs and lows. I graduated with an engineering degree in May and landed my first job in August. Additionally, I just completed my first NaNoWriMo, an event I've been anticipating for four years! These are all great triumphs that I celebrate and am grateful for. But the year has also been extremely draining. In March, one of my university professors passed away unexpectedly; in June, one of my grandmothers passed away after a very full life. I continue to miss our dog, who lost his battle with cancer in May 2018, and I miss the camaraderie of my fellow students during the long slog of senior year. The upheaval of moving mid-semester and studying for the required engineering exam were also major events that took a great deal of energy and care to prepare for. I survived both - again, great triumphs. Yet a sense of melancholy followed both, as both punctuated my journey from school to work. There's no turning back now. And while I do my best to accept this year as it is, I continue to wrestle with the past and anticipate where I'm heading now - both with my career and with my creativity. Emmaline’s journey is equally difficult. Read all about it in your copy of NeverSeen today!
This Thanksgiving weekend, I want to thank all my readers for motivating me to keep writing bombastic scenes like this one. If you haven't read my book yet, grab a copy on Amazon. #BlackFriday2019 #epicfantasy #reading
One word that is common to Faeland Legends is darkness. Like many fantasy writers - including greats like C.S. Lewis and Tolkien - my underlying theme throughout Faeland Legends is the battle between good and evil - light and dark -in the world at large and within each character. Thus, the term 'darkness' holds significance beyond conveying the level of brightness in a room. This passage, though, reveals another recurrent word: deep. Many fairy stories are crafted for small children, full of light and fun; I wrote NeverSeen to debunk the myth that fairy-tales are for children alone - and depth helps with that. Not only does depth illustrate the world on a larger scale, it teaches readers to examine the world and its characters beyond their immediate appearance. Both the real world and its inhabitants are complex and riddled with pitfalls. My hope is that with the tools of depth and darkness, readers may learn to navigate both with greater intention for good.
Throughout NeverSeen, Emmaline is searching for answers; now, she and her friends are searching for Raven, a young boy whose disappearance seems to have gone unnoticed by everyone but her. While the goal is to retrieve him safely from the confines of the secret caves, Emmaline recognizes there are more like him that need rescuing. She also recognizes they may not have the opportunity to save them all - not without great risk. This makes the mission all the more difficult. Sometimes goals can be a challenge to stick to. What goals are you fighting for?
Throughout NeverSeen, Emmaline is haunted by dark dreams; even more so, the need to keep her secret powers in the dark. Now, the only light in her life is her faith and her pursuit for truth. Trapped in a glass cage, Emmaline contends with the light meant to destroy her - and turns it back on her captors.
One challenge of writing I didn't anticipate was that of conversations between male characters. The fact is, guys and gals do not communicate with each other the same way. My dad (who is also an author) pointed out an example of poorly written conflict between males in one of my favorite series - instead of slugging it out to sort it out, the two boys avoided each other for weeks. Growing up, I saw that tactic a lot among female classmates, but not male classmates. I didn't want to make the same mistake with my characters, so I paid attention to how my guy friends interacted at lunchtime. The longer I listened, the more I started to understand how they communicated, and the easier it became to write those conversations. The new scary adventure I’m facing takes place in all of November 2019. I promised myself that after surviving university, I’d engage in my first NaNoWriMo! I’m excited to start Book 3 of the Faeland Legends, “Recompense”, with the clarity I now have for the entire series. You can follow my progress on the NaNoWriMo website, along with my favorite fantasy author, Brandon King, and emerging novelist Janet Lund. Seasoned and green writers alike face the same fear when starting a new story. Will you face yours this year?
Technology doesn't exist in NeverSeen. Or so she thought. In the belly of the beast, Emmaline and her band of friends discover the truth about NeverSeen - and the treacherous "magic" behind it all.
All of Emmaline's restless nights and wary days have led up to this evening. While the annual Harvest Festival preoccupied most of the minds there, Emma and her friends finalized their rescue plans in an empty maze. At the close of what should be a joyful day, Emmaline counts the minutes until she abandons everything she's ever known, coming home only to strike out on a mission from which she may not return.
Believe it or not, this was about the point in the first draft of NeverSeen when I ran out of ideas. I knew how I wanted it to end, but not how to get there. So, I did what Emmaline does here - I wrote everything I knew I wanted to happen, skipping the middle of the book. After writing the ending, I had a destination to aim for. From there, I worked my way backwards through the book, thinking through what needed to happen in order to end up at the climax. Using that strategy, I wrote the middle of the book, then made adjustments to the finale to fit a few unexpected changes. If I had just sat there waiting for the middle to happen by itself, I would probably still be sitting there. Writer's block can be challenging, but if handled correctly can get even better results than bashing one's head against a wall until inspiration arrived. Plus it hurts a lot less, too. :P When you face a challenge that seems insurmountable, take a step back and give yourself space to think. It can pay off in ways you'd never imagine.
In this segment, Emmaline experiences two significant milestones: the arrival of her baby sister and graduating from high school. However, she also takes time to celebrate the little things, like summer adventures with her friends. What milestones have you celebrated lately?
The core themes behind NeverSeen and the rest of Faeland Legends are summarized in these three words: fairies, faith, and fortitude. Fairies were my creature of choice; I had been raised on fairy-tales and missed them on the adolescent shelves at the school library. Faith is Emmaline’s recurrent challenge - faith in her friends and faith in a power greater than herself that, at times, seems cold and distant. Fortitude ties everything together. Defined as courage in pain or adversity, Emmaline endures both at great cost. Yet, like metal in a crucible, this incredible heat refines her spirit and gives her more strength than she ever believed she could possess. If I could bestow one trait on my readers, it is fortitude, for there are many trials in this world that we must face. Some trials we must face alone; others, we can only overcome if we ask for help. This is a key part of fortitude - the courage to be vulnerable. Unfortunately, this world is not perfect, and there are those - perhaps you know some? - that would rather inflict harm than foster healing. But if we all took a leap of faith and lived into our fortitude, we might be astounded at how we can help each other. How will you live into your fortitude today?
In the hidden caverns in the mountains surrounding NeverSeen, Emmaline's trust in her friends is one of the two things keeping her alive. The other is her unbridled energy, her ability to adapt to circumstances and both mentally and physically pivot on the spot. These are skills I'm growing to appreciate even more than I did at university; as the greenest member of the team, it takes everything I have to absorb new material and apply it while keeping pace with expectations. It is in these intense moments that I both question and remember what I am capable of. What do those moments look like for you? How do you want to respond to a deep dive into the unknown?
It takes time and energy to prepare for important events. I have experienced this multiple times this year alone, from moving house to graduating college. These, though, have been but a few trials - and the only ones I saw looming around the bend. Likewise, Emmaline anticipates her crew's late-night escapades with apprehension; though her intuition about Raven's predicament runs true, even she cannot imagine the horror he's enduring. That's the kind of fear that clouds judgement when it's needed most - in times of crisis, in times of great need, in times of preparation.
This is one rare peek behind the curtain of NeverSeen. Through the eyes of Jolson O'Meern, Emmaline's father, we see what he sees - the bizarre operations of the High Order, the brutal regiment demanded of the military, the curious side-effects of the mandated strength medications. While Emmaline suspects of corruption within NeverSeen's upper ranks, she does not see how close she is to the consequences of their actions - the physical and mental cost of her own father.
Emmaline's world has been void of peace for ages. Like my own teenage years, her life is caught in the shadow of uncertainty. Friendships are tested, limits are stretched repeatedly. Most importantly, the onslaught of adolescence brings difficult questions about oneself: Who am I now? Who do I want to become? Peace is a rare instance that I seek to cherish more than I did when I was young (indeed, the jarring nature of life has even infiltrated the very formatting of this passage in random line breaks). But until I find myself in a place of peace again, I will do as Emma does - staring at the ceiling, praying, continuing to trust powers higher than her own, waiting for the day when all is right again.
The easiest thing to do when facing trials is to surrender. It requires no effort, no energy, and no thought. Forging ahead, on the other hand, is the most painful path to take. It is also the only one worth taking. To not take that path is to surrender to the darkness. But when we refuse to surrender, we give ourselves a chance to find the light. When we refuse to give up, we leave the door open for hope to break in, and perhaps to discover that we are not alone in our battles.
This is the moment Emmaline comes more fully into her powers. Though she does not understand how they work or where they come from, she does not question her ability to protect her friends. But in the labyrinth beneath the mountains of NeverSeen, super-powers can only do so much. After all, the enemy was there first...
A lot of my inspiration for Emmaline's guy-friends came from my own experiences in junior high and high school. In that phase of life, it was difficult to find girls to be friends with, so I ended up becoming friends with several guys. Our shared interest in video games and movies helped, and listening to their throw-downs on each other gave me a lot of insight into how guys interact. Over the course of several years and several hundreds of lunch-time hangouts, I got to know them well enough to model characters after them, characters that took on a life of their own.
This is one of the few instances where Emmaline encounters Shadela alone. Between struggling to keep her powers secret and searching for the truth, Emmaline's isolation takes its toll. The opportunity to find common ground with someone, even Shadela, is too good to pass up.
I can relate much more to this passage than I did when I originally wrote it. Being first published in high school meant I had to write about a number of things I had no experience with, including interviews and internship application processes. This ended up working, however - NeverSeen is not all it seems, so having Emmaline live with certain impressions of the world, accurate or otherwise, fits into the scheme of things. Like entering adulthood, writing involves a lot of trial and error, learning from mistakes, and moving forward. These are important habits to develop early on - habits I hope to share with other young adults and teens, as well as everyone else.
When anger goes unchecked, bystanders become targets. When the source of the anger goes unexamined - whether fear, guilt, or grief - it can spiral into relentless rage. Anger is a valid emotion - however, if its intensity is not dissipated, anger can become relentless, festering in the soul and turning its host into a completely different person. The consequences of this transformation will be a recurrent theme in Faeland Legends; though Sam is the first example, she will not be the last.
Raven's captivity provides the first of a few glimpses behind the curtain of NeverSeen's inner workings. What is occurring and why is unclear. What is clear is that the man called Senator is far too interested in Emmaline to mean anything but trouble...
Dreams, in few cases, are helpful or relevant to the person experiencing them. The product of our brains processing the events of the previous day, dreams are often confusing, jarring, even terrifying - but rarely a reflection of reality. While most shake off these visions of the night, those that hold fast to the dreams of the day will be perpetually frustrated by reality's failure to live up to their expectations. These dreamers, who live on opaque visions of justice instead of the concrete foundation of truth, are those who can experience - and inflict - the greatest woes on the world, fae or otherwise.
Emmaline's friends watch the desolation of Skyglass from a far away hill, trying to figure out what to do next.
Emmaline's sisters, Ashleeka and Umala, attempt to escape from Skyglass as it leans precariously over the river.
If the reader doesn't suspect anything by this point, they certainly should here. In my defense, I had not yet graduated from high school when I wrote this, so I had no idea how much pomp and circumstance and nerves goes into completing a major stage of education. However, the fact that Emmaline's completion of school is so glossed over and that her summer is so ideal that the reader ought to step back and wonder...how much of this is real?
Tracer and the others have managed to outrun the subterranean explosion in a large boat. As they crash-land in water outside, Tracer seeks to establish where they are in the valley. After all, nobody in NeverSeen can just go exploring without a permit...
All of Emmaline's questions, all her doubts and dreams about Skyglass, are over. As the tree burns beneath her, Emmaline decides her fate.
The wait is over. The dream is reality. The fire Emmaline feared has come.
Across the valley, more than a few characters are wondering about the upcoming Harvest Festival Dance. It's the night that Emmaline and her friends plan to rescue Raven. It's also the night that Sam is supposed to spy on Emmaline, her once-best friend. And for Chief Locknut? Well, at this point, it's hard to say...
One of the few times we see Raven's perspective, he's coping with the wrath of his suddenly changed sister. Desperate for a distraction, Raven flees into the woods and discovers that trouble is already seeking him out.
One of the antagonists of the story, the man known as 'Senator', provides a moment of insight into his motives and the inner workings of NeverSeen.
This is one of the few instances in the book where we get Sam's perspective. Having an outside view of what is - or isn't - happening can produce doubt about the main character, both in other characters and the reader, which is precisely why I wrote this scene.
Emmaline's younger sisters relate what they learned while scouring the library for information on people with powers - people like Emmaline.
Emmaline's friends visit her at the archery range. This is the first time Sam and Raven appear in the story, and the first time Emmaline mentions her secret. At least, the secret that she's aware of...
Emmaline fought the soldiers, survived the stings of giant hornets, and escaped the glass torture chamber, but all for naught. As she stirs from unconsciousness induced by a hit to the back of her head, she discovers that she has woken to a nightmare, one she can't escape from.
This is the first interaction we see between Emmaline and her friends from school - particularly, Tracer Mink. I wrote this scene to try to accurately convey what it is like when two teens are attracted to each other, but are way too awkward and unsure of themselves to say so.
Everyone has had that one classmate that is super annoying. Emmaline is no exception. Her teacher, however, has a sly way of dealing with the problem.
Emmaline's nightmare is back with a vengeance. The only difference is that her parents know something is wrong. But in a world where the slightest oddity makes one suspect, Emma's fear of the consequences of sharing outweigh the horror of dealing with it alone.
Despite her intuition, Emmaline doesn't know everything about NeverSeen. She doesn't realize how well she's being monitored. She doesn't realize that they can record her using her powers to teleport out of immediate danger. She doesn't realize that this evidence can be used against her, and land her a one-way ticket to disaster.
Emmaline's fire-power got her into this mess, but it may be the only thing that can get her out.
Recurrent and relentless, Emmaline's nightmare always starts with fire in Skyglass and ends with the death of her people.
This is one of few instances where we see NeverSeen from an adult's point of view. A member of the Watch guard, he has no choice but to endure the harsh cold of the weather and his superiors - to do otherwise would incur far greater consequences.
Emmaline and her sister, Ashlee, fly to school every morning with the help of their pet hummingbirds. Similar to dog-sledding, the girls are pulled by the hummingbirds while they ride on specially-crafted sled-shaped leaves. This is how young fairies get to school and back until they are old enough and strong enough to fly with their own wings.
Tracer and the other boys have survived the turmoil of escaping the underground fortress, but the treacherous night has only begun.
The boys sabotaged the underground fortress. Escaping with the slave children in a boat, they continue their fight for survival.
Thirsty for blood and convinced of the traitor's guilt, the people of NeverSeen decide how to execute Emmaline.
In a NeverSeen trial, the defendant does not enter a plea. The defendant does not even speak. Today, the defendant is Emmaline O'Meern.
Emmaline faces the horrors of a trial...from center stage.
Emma's friends do their best to stay alive in their mission to rescue the slave children.
Having infiltrated the underground fortress, Falcon, Gator, Tracer, Kael, Wayk, and Raven devise a plan to get themselves and the slaves out.
The trial to decide Emmaline's fate starts at ten, but she's already certain of how it will end.
Emmaline and her family arrive at the Harvest Festival. Though she wants to enjoy herself, Emmaline can't ignore the plans she set in motion for later that night.
With the Festival happening that night, Emmaline reflects on the strangeness of the events that have already occurred in the day, knowing they will certainly not be the last.
Unbeknownst to the other, Emmaline and Tracer reflect on a childhood song that holds a special place in both their hearts.
Sam volunteered to join the Watchers. Now she's trying to meet their expectations. After losing track of Emmaline in the chaos following the Harvest Festival, her future is uncertain, at best.
Emmaline's friends - Raven, Falcon, Tracer, Kael, Gator, and Wayk - are hoping to rescue her from the underground stronghold. Working as a team, the older boys discover Raven has more strength than they expected...maybe even more than them.
Anticipating a coming storm, the High Council has advanced the obligatory flight test. Emmaline decides to try the most difficult course, the Willow tree through which she'd accidentally flown through earlier. If she succeeds, she'll have the best grade in the class - but in a world where blending in is key, will that be a good thing?
Emmaline's best-friend-turned-soldier, Sam, tries interrogating her in the wee hours of the night. Both physically and mentally drained, Emmaline must draw on inner strength to withstand the torture, and to fight back.
As her friends forge through the forest back to the mine in which they last saw her, Emmaline is dragged through passage after passage. With the world as she knows it disintegrating around her, few things warrant her surprise - until she's brought face-to-face with the last person she expected.
Emmaline and her friend, Tracer, are escaping the noise of the Harvest Festival’s teen dance party on the balcony. When she suddenly has a vision, Tracer is confronted with the truth that he doesn’t know what to do. As they become the source of unwanted scrutiny by the other teen faeries, both Tracer and Emmaline must decide what is worth more to them – their dignity, or an easy exit.
Emmaline’s arch-enemy, Shadela, chased her into the forest. After teleporting through a tree to make Shadela crash, Emmaline finds they share common ground in their isolation, and the two foes start a conversation. The question remains, is Shadela worthy of trust? Or, is she playing with Emmaline’s vulnerability for her own gain?
Emmaline’s younger sister, Ashlee, presents her with a gift, claiming to have found it in a mysterious library book. While Emmaline experiences a strong connection to the necklace, she still can’t get Ashlee to tell her its significance. A pendant so simple – a red stone backed by ornate metal – does not appear from nowhere. The question that readers should consider is who left it for Ashlee to find, especially when it only fits Emmaline.
After preventing a mid-air collision between two carriages, Emmaline collapsed in agony on a nearby bench. Amid the ensuing chaos, she realizes that while her actions were noble, they gave away a secret even she did not know she had, a secret that could get her killed by the very people she fought to protect -- that she can control fire.
After teleporting her friends halfway across NeverSeen, Emmaline has taken a huge risk - she's revealed that she has powers she doesn't understand and didn't want. When she asks them for help, they agree to because they trust her. In a world where nothing is as it seems, they decide that the friendship they share matters more than any danger they may face, though - even with Shadela's inside knowledge - they have no idea what they'll be up against.
Emmaline has faced many enemies in a short amount of time, including her personal bully, Shadela, her ex-best-friend Sam, and NeverSeen soldiers. Now, in a group training session preparing for a rescue mission, she faces an obstacle course alongside her friend, Tracer. Curiously, the distress she understandably experienced with her social dilemmas does not carry over to the physical challenge of dodging poles and rolling barrels. Instead, she sees it as an opportunity for growth - embracing it rather than fearing it. This difference in perspective is valuable to take note of, since a large part of life is what we decide to do with it. Emmaline's open mind allows her to notice things a distracted mind could not, and gives her the chance to avert a deadly accident.
Minutes before, Emmaline foresaw a collision involving two flying carriages, one with children aboard. In desperate rush to save them, Emmaline has flown to the site of the impact. Just as the carriages are about to crash, she puts herself between them, and discovers that the passengers in the other carriage are, of all people, NeverSeen soldiers.
In many of my favorite stories, a prophecy is said of someone coming forth to defeat the force of evil. Some of these prophesies clearly specified who this person was, either by describing the person's heritage or individual characteristics. Others were far less specific in their detailing, leaving the door open for misinterpretation of who the prophecy is about - and if it applies to more than one person. The prophesier, in some cases, can turn out to be almost as important as the one being prophesied, if not equally important. For example, this is the only time in NeverSeen that I mention Ashlee writes poetry, thereby implying that the rest of the O'Meern family either doesn't know or doesn't see it as a gift. While that insight may seem insignificant compared to the prophecy itself, it suggests that there is more to Ashlee than she reveals, making her just as mysterious as the Phoenix she writes of.
After a desperate rescue mission to save her friend Raven, Emmaline was captured by soldiers of NeverSeen. Recovering from the turmoil of battle and the pain of being stung by a militarized wasp, Emmaline reflects on the world she was raised in, and whether any truth remains.
Only minutes earlier, Emmaline envisioned a carriage crash in the sky. Desperate to prevent it from happening, she defies all expectations and intervenes. In the process, however, Emmaline discovers that not just children's lives are in jeopardy - her life, and her secrets, are as well.
Emmaline is no stranger to nightmares. For ages, she's dreamt of Skyglass, the massive tree in the center of the valley and home to the fairy temple, burning to the ground. But this time, she wakes with newfound horror. She's seen the face of who is behind the disaster - and it's the last person she expected.
Emmaline has graduated high school, but her troubles have only begun. As she undergoes her first day of training to be an engineering apprentice, her instincts once again clash with what her potential master expects of her. After witnessing a man catch fire, Emmaline is forced to choose between two terrible options - protecting her future, or saving a life.
Like many kids, Emmaline is bullied for being different. One girl at her school, Shadela, has seemingly made it her mission to taunt Emma daily. Having passed the flight test a month earlier, Shadela enjoys the advantage of free flight over Emmaline, who must fly on a leaf sled pulled by hummingbirds. Emmaline tries to remain calm and controlled under Shadela's relentless onslaught, but she knows it's only a matter of time before Shadela strikes.
Did you ever have a favorite tree when you were little, one you loved to climb or picnic under? Emmaline has a favorite tree too - a giant hometree called Skyglass, big enough to shelter the entire population of NeverSeen. But something's gone terribly wrong - a fire has broken out, and Emmaline has no choice but to escape with her sister as the tree falls. They make it out in time, barely, but there's no question that many others perished. As the harsh cold of the night closes in, Emmaline wonders in horror at the destruction and pain she now shares with her people, and wonders in dread where her parents are.
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