The Secret Story

top secret writing

The secret story. I’m sure most writers have one or two of them. Some of these stories may have been written down. Some may have not. We hear about it mostly with poets, but that doesn’t mean that novelists aren’t prone to the syndrome either. Or, I should say, it doesn’t mean we’ve never attempted it.

My mentor brought up a similar topic during our club meeting a while back. Are there some stories that shouldn’t be written? And furthermore, should a writer be afraid to write about something “taboo”?

I got to thinking about this the other night when I was on the phone with my mom and I mentioned one of my “secret” stories to her.

I must say, I’m an old pro at telling myself I’ll never share a story, that the story will be only for me to read, and then promptly telling someone about it. Prism World is probably my most classic example of this. It started out with a little writing exercise I assigned to myself, but my intention was to keep it quiet. Yeah right. I may come across as quiet most of the time, but when it comes to my writing I really can’t shut up. And so, by the time I had written 3 chapters in Prism World, I was sharing it with my writing club…and then my family…and then here on my blog.

Over the course of my life, I have had various reasons for keeping certain selections of writing a secret. It started out with the daydreams that I wrote down. As a young pre-teen/teenage girl, you can imagine that my mental heroics and romance were things I wanted to keep to myself. Still do, actually. They weren’t bad content-wise, but they were personal.

This habit of keeping certain writings secret stretched out into regular fiction later on in my life. At first it was just because I wasn’t confident in my ability to write. Nowadays, however, it’s become a bit more complicated.

Prism World was only a small stretch out of my comfort zone. Violence and language are not new to me, so writing about an assassin wasn’t all that big of a deal. Writing about a society that breeds people, and the experiences the main character goes through because of this, made the story a little more risque. And yet I couldn’t keep it quiet. I felt the incredible desire to share it, and eventually I did, despite taking a “vow of silence” as it were.

There are other stories that I have told myself I’d keep quiet about, too, but like Prism World I have proceeded to share the ideas, and sometimes text, with people all the same. I wouldn’t call them risque, though. Not until my most recent idea.

This idea, the one that I told my mom about and subsequently mentally smacked myself when I heard her reaction, is probably the most daring of any story I’ve attempted. It all started out one day when I began to wonder what it would be like to write from the perspective of the “bad guy”. Being a medieval historian of sorts, I also know about the sexual indescretions of male royalty through out history, of the harems they kept and the things nobility did, and of the amount of evil that these people could commit. Being the curious individual that I am, I wondered what it would be like to turn convention inside-out and write a story about a corrupt queen who kept a harem of men. (Someone once said the way my mind works scares them, but they don’t know the half of it.)

And so I began jotting down notes. The idea was this:

The hero of the story is a mysterious sword-weilder (who eventually turns out to be a woman) known as “Revolution” who builds up an army to fight against a selfish and corrupt queen. The queen, named Serea, keeps a collection of six men she calls escorts, people who she picks up off the street at her pleasure and forces them to leave everything they have ever known in order to come live with her. The story is told from Serea’s perspective. The conflict comes in when one of the men Serea picks up turns out to be the fiance of “Revolution”, and the story follows Serea all the way through to the end of the revolution where she loses her throne and, ultimately, follows the choices and consequences she must face because of her actions.

Now, just to clarify, my mom is a very, very conservative Christian lady. Why I told her about this idea, I have no clue. But it still brings up the question: Are there ideas that are off-limits?

I’ve heard of writers being ostracized or even disowned by their families for the things they wrote. Sometimes this was because of content. Sometimes it was because the book really was putting the families’ “skeletons in the closet” on display. This, plus the long list of books banned throughout history, indicates that there are a fair few who believe certain things should not be written. But is that right?

I suppose the answer all depends on your own personal views, as the question itself is heavily determined by personal moral code. Christians, at least the variety that I have grown up with, tend to think that there really are limits to what ought to be written. I could probably write a book-length list of these off-limits topics. I, however, tend to think that it’s all about the reason a piece is being written.

The fact of the matter is that even the Bible leaves very few topics untouched. There is probably just as much sexual explicitness in the Bible as there is in a modern romance novel. (I’m guessing on this one though, as I’ve never actually read a romance novel.) And yet the goal of the two narrative collections are vastly different. One is for life guidance, the other for worldly pleasure.

I think it is a natural thing for a writer to want to share their work, but sharing can be hard, sometimes frightening, and sometimes even dangerous when writing about topics that certain groups, or even humanity itself, likes to pretend don’t exist. And more than anything, people hate being pulled out of their comfort zone.

I don’t really have a definite answer as to whether or not some ideas should be off limits, but I probably should try harder to keep my secret stories to myself. Or, at least, not to try and discuss them with my conservative Christian mom.

But then again, I never was very good at keeping my mouth shut…

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Rayne and Company

When I started writing The Four Stars, I really had no intention of doing anything with it. It was, for all intents and purposes, meant for my friends and me only.

It started out with a dream I had in which I had a half-unicorn, half-pegasus animal companion, so naturally this went in the original story. I then asked my friends which kinds of pets they would like to have in the story. Eryn, of course, chose a griffon; Gavin chose a dragon; my best friend, Rayne, chose a wolf.

The creature companions were intended to be important parts of the story in my original idea, but they quickly became little more than a magical transportation system. They were just important enough that I couldn’t take them out, but not important enough to be particularly interesting. Well…there is one exception to that.

Of all the creature companions mentioned in the trilogy, Kadin the elvish wolf was always the most “alive” to me. My best friend and I have both been fascinated by wolves ever since we could remember. Combined with the fact that the elvish wolves in the story have no magical powers beyond longevity and the ability to talk, I think part of the reason Kadin became so real to me was the fact that he had to make due with natural skills.

Being smaller than a griffon, a dragon, or a winged unicorn, it also was more logical for Kadin to follow the main characters wherever they went, giving me more time and space in which to develop his character.

My interest in Kadin also goes hand-in-hand with the fact that Rayne is based off of my best friend, and is the only friend I have maintained constant contact with during all these years that I have spent working on the Legend of the Stars series. She adores Kadin, and her enthusiasm for the character inspired me in my writing.

My best friend and I were roommates for the two years that we spent at boarding school, which was where I wrote most of the trilogy, and many of Rayne’s reactions in the story come directly from my best friend’s reactions when she read my drafts.

Of all the human/creature pairs in the trilogy, Rayne and Kadin complement each other best, both representing wild and yet staunchly loyal personalities.

Out of the four main introductions in the first chapter of The Four Stars, Rayne gets the least amount of space, due mostly to the fact that hers is a character best introduced through her reactions to stressful and dangerous situations.

And so, for the moment, I hope you enjoy this little segment.

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gray wolf

“Think they’ll hear it?” Rayne inquired as Razi stepped back into their oak home and hung the horn back on the wall.

“They always do,” Razi laughed. “When have they ever missed a meal?”

“Good point.”

With that Rayne plopped a few tins of dried fruit on the little table nearby and turned back to the fireplace. She smiled gently when she looked down at the floor where her elvish wolf, Kadin, lay sleeping. The flickering light from the fire glowed against the wolf’s shiny coat, which was itself the color of liquid silver. He had a white underbelly and a white marking in the shape of an elvin dagger that ran down his forehead, ending at a point just before his nose.

He was young for his race, being little more than 10 years old when his kin often lived to be 100. Rolf, elder of the forest elves, had given Kadin to Rayne when he was only a pup, a sort of comfort gift to make up for the loss of Rayne’s parents. Kadin and his parents had accepted it as a duty, for it was every elvin wolf’s duty to obey their masters unquestioningly. But Rayne loved Kadin, and soon the pair had become inseparable friends. Of all the creatures in the world, Rayne truly believed there was none so loyal and protective as Kadin.

Quietly, Rayne sat down beside the sleeping wolf, placing a gentle hand on his soft coat. The creature stirred, then opened one sleepy golden eye to look at her. With a slight laugh, the young woman wrapped her arms around Kadin in a big hug and the wolf yawned lazily.

“Were you planning on sleeping all day?” Rayne asked as Kadin stretched, yawning again for effect.

“Maybe,” the he-wolf replied, looking over at his mistress. “You seemed to be doing just fine reaching over me when you were cooking earlier.”

“You were awake all along?”

“If that is what you call awake. You’re not going to make me move, are you?”

“What? You want me to bring your breakfast to you?”

The wolf plopped back down on the floor, rolling over onto his side and wagging his tail as he looked up at his mistress with big, innocent golden eyes.

“Tsk,” Rayne said with a laugh. “You’re so spoiled. Fine. I’ll get you your breakfast.”

“You’re going to get fat if you stay this lazy, Kadin,” Razi grinned from her seat at the table.

“Wolves don’t get fat,” Kadin argued. “And I help you hunt, so you can’t say I’m always lazy. I believe I’m entitled to a little laziness every now and again.”

“Yes, you are,” Rayne smiled, setting a plate of meat in front of him.

She patted the wolf on the head, then turned back toward the table.

“Now where are those boys? I’m really hungry,” she huffed, putting her hands on her hips.

A moment later the sound of whooping and hollering echoed through the open window nearby. Quickly Razi headed for the door, stepping outside and looking up in the air. Rayne grabbed up a cooking knife nearby before following her friend outside.

Just as she stepped through the door, Eryn and Gavin, astride Lorcan and Adaliz, landed with a heavy thud not more than 20 feet from where Razi was standing.

“Look at that! Look at that!” Eryn exclaimed excitedly, turning to Gavin with a victorious smirk. “I beat you! I so beat you!”

Gavin gave Razi and Rayne a look of frustration, then he rolled his eyes and said with a sigh, “Eryn, we got here at the exact same time.”

Razi grinned, then turned to Eryn and asked, “So, mighty hero, what foes have we vanquished this morning?”

The boy stopped to contemplate the question, but Gavin beat him to the answer.

“A stand of trees and at least 8 apples,” he said, sliding off of Adaliz’s back.

The younger boy gave his comrade a pouty glare before he, too, slid off his mount’s back.

All of a sudden Rayne bounded toward him.

“I spent all this time working hard to make you a nice meal and half starved to death waiting for you to show up only to find out that you’ve already filled up on apples?” she scolded, brandishing the cooking knife in the boy’s face.

“Hey! Hey! Rayne! Knife!” Eryn replied, leaning away from her and looking worriedly at the blade that flashed in front of his face.

“What, you think I didn’t notice that I just happen to have a knife in my hand?”

“I’m still hungry!” Eryn blurted out. “I still want to eat. Now can you please get that thing out of my face?”

Rayne stepped back, smirking at the boy whose face was pale as a sheet.

“It’s not like I was going to poke you with it,” she laughed. “Haven’t you learned that by now?”

“I’ve learned that you’re scary,” Eryn replied, darting behind Razi for safety.

“Says the mighty hero as he hides behind a girl,” Gavin said sarcastically, heading toward the door. “Well, while you’re cowering in fear of a cooking knife, I’m going to have breakfast.”

It was as though “breakfast” was a magic word, for in an instant Eryn had darted out from behind Razi and into their oak tree home nearby.

“Hah! Gets him every time,” Rayne grinned broadly.

“You’re mean, you know that?” Razi sighed with a small smile of amusement.

“Meh,” Rayne shrugged. “It’s just too much fun to resist.”

Razi rolled her eyes, then stepped through the door, Rayne following close behind.

Introducing…Eryn & Gavin!

Now introducing…(drum roll)…Eryn & Gavin!

As I may have mentioned before, (probably more than once, knowing my memory), the four main characters of The Star Trilogy were originally based off of me and my three friends from my sophomore year in high school. I must admit, we were something of an odd bunch. We fought about as much as we goofed off. In many ways, we were more like siblings than friends. Of our group, the two boys fought the most. Actually, it was more like arguing and teasing, and often times the arguing and teasing was so funny that we all ended up laughing in the end.

I don’t think any of them realized how much they meant to me. I had suffered a lot of emotional problems in my earlier years because of my parents’ divorce and what not, and by the time I entered 7th grade, I had withdrawn from practically everyone. I didn’t really have any close friends. My cousin A was there, but we didn’t always get along. I spent a lot of time alone. My desk remained shoved up against the wall and I spoke only when spoken to. I didn’t go outside, not even for recess, unless I was required to go because of PE.

It wasn’t until the end of my freshman year that things began to change. The two guys who inspired the characters of Eryn and Gavin sat at desks near my own. (We attended a small private school, so we didn’t change classrooms). I had grown up with “Gavin” and had known “Eryn” for a few years, but as was generally the case, I rarely spoke to them. Rarely, that is, until one day when I heard them discussing the new Wii video game, Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. If there was one thing I still had in common with the people around me, it was that I loved playing video games.

I had never heard of the Zelda series, but listening to the two guys talk was interesting. Eventually, I got up the courage to ask them if it was alright for me to move my desk over next to theirs. Having never been particularly well-liked by my fellow classmates, I was actually kind of surprised when they said yes.

Their friendship was good for me. I began to change and to heal. My best friend, the one who inspired the character of Rayne, came to our school the following year. I still consider my sophomore year to be the highlight of my life, and I don’t believe I’ve ever cried so hard as I did when that year ended and our group broke apart. (Our school only went to 10th grade).

I don’t know what my friends really thought of me back then, and as for “Eryn” and “Gavin”, we rarely, if ever, talk now. But that still doesn’t change the fact that they have always and will always mean the world to me, and I cherish the memories I made with them.

When reading the following excerpt out loud, my cousin A commented that it sounded just like the two friends the characters are based off of, so if you have been wondering what I’ve been talking about, this is it.

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apple tree orchard art

“Eight!” Eryn exclaimed, his honey-brown eyes dancing with delight as he held a thin apple core high in the air. “That makes eight! Beat that Gavin!”

His companion raised an eyebrow at him.

“Why?” he questioned, taking an unhurried bite of the apple that he was eating.

“Come on, Gavin!” Eryn groaned. “You’re so boring! Rayne would have raced me.”

Gavin’s demeanor remained unaffected.

“I prefer to enjoy my food,” he said, taking another slow bite out of the fruit in his hand.

“I enjoy my food,” Eryn argued. “I just like having fun at the same time.”

“Indigestion doesn’t constitute fun in my opinion,” Gavin countered.

His companion sighed with a huff.

“You’re so boring.”

“I believe you’ve said that before.”

There was a momentary silence as Eryn threw his apple core away and climbed up into the tree he was sitting under, searching for another apple to eat.

“Don’t get stuck,” Gavin warned sarcastically, his sharp blue eyes scrutinizing his apple as though thoroughly interested in it. “You know your record with trees.”

“Shut up,” Eryn replied, bracing his feet in some splits in the tree branches.

Gavin glanced up at him nonchalantly.

“No.”

Eryn glared down at his comrade, rolled his eyes, then continued to climb further up the tree.

Bickering was a daily occurrence for these two. Eryn, a hyper, childish young man of 15, often proved to be the perfect sort of person to pick on, at least in the mind of Gavin, who was only a year older. Despite their constant quarrelling, however, the two were still close as brothers. Having only been 5 and 6 years old when they first came to live with Aunt Effie in her giant oak tree home, the two boys had few memories of life outside the valley, and it seemed only natural to Gavin that if he was there, so was Eryn.

“By the way,” Eryn said as he stretched for an apple the size of a large man’s fist, “where did Lorcan and Adaliz go off to?”

“I don’t know,” Gavin shrugged. “I’m sure they’ll check on us later. And if nothing else, we can always walk back.”

“Walk?” the younger boy turned to look at his companion, a horrified expression on his face. “We’re like…5 miles away from home!”

“Horror of horrors,” Gavin replied sarcastically. “Last time I checked, you can still walk.”

“But that’s so much work,” Eryn protested.

As though on cue, a pair of enormous shadows flickered over the two young men. The rush of large wings caused the trees around them to flutter as though in a brisk gale. A moment later, two great beasts landed in the clearing nearby.

“Well, princess, your ride has arrived,” Gavin grunted, standing to his feet. “I wonder if Rayne has finished making breakfast. Oh, wait. You’ve already had breakfast.”

“No I haven’t,” Eryn argued. “That was just me warming up.”

With that he rushed over to one of the two beasts, a tawny griffon named Lorcan. Quickly the young man swung himself up onto the creature’s back, shouting, “Alright! Let’s go!”

The griffon tipped his head to look at his rider.

“Why are you in such a hurry?” he inquired.

“Because he’s afraid Rayne will eat all his food,” Gavin snorted, mounting the second beast, an emerald green dragon named Adaliz.

“No I’m not,” Eryn replied. “It’s because I’m going to beat you back home.”

“Again with the beating,” Gavin muttered.

“That sounds violent,” Lorcan said. “And don’t you think that he would be more likely to beat you back? He is stronger.”

“Hey, that’s not fair!” Eryn protested. “Even my own griffon is underestimating my power,” he flexed his muscles for show. “And anyway, I wasn’t talking about fighting. I mean I’m going to race Gavin back and I am going to win.”

“You or Lorcan?” Gavin questioned. “And as I distinctly recall, Adaliz and I win every time. There’s no way you can beat us.”

“Is that so?” Lorcan snorted, pawing the ground. “Alright, Adaliz, challenge accepted.”

“How exactly did I get involved in this?” the dragon replied, turning to look at the griffon.

Before she could get an answer, however, Lorcan bounded into the sky as Eryn shouted, “Last one there gets clean-up duty!”

“Go, Adaliz!” Gavin commanded, hunkering down so as not to fall off.

In the blink of an eye the dragon and her rider sailed skyward, Adaliz’s large, leathery wings propelling her at a quick clip through the air.

Wind whipped Eryn’s semi-long, brown hair back and forth out of his eyes as he bent low over his mount’s neck. Gavin’s short, light brown hair, however, was hardly even stirred by the brisk gale.

“Give up, Adaliz!” Lorcan called from the front. “You know I’m going to win!”

“You’ve said that before,” Adaliz responded, a powerful wing thrust propelling her up alongside the griffon. “And in any case, I’m only doing this for Gavin.”

Gavin watched as Lorcan moved ahead of them, then bent low over Adaliz’s neck and shouted, “Give it everything you have! I won’t get clean-up duty if I can help it!”

The young man tensed as he felt the dragon’s muscles surge beneath her emerald scales. The wind stung his eyes and he squinted, peering into the horizon and to the familiar, towering branches far beyond.

He and Eryn must have done a hundred of these races over the past few years. Granted, Eryn was a much better rider, though Gavin would never admit to it. Eryn had grown up with Lorcan, who had only been the size of a large dog when Eryn had been brought to live there in the valley.

Gavin remembered it, that time long ago, because it had been the first time he had ever met Eryn. Since Aunt Effie had been his mother’s nurse, Gavin naturally was taken to live with her after losing his parents. Razi had come next with her winged unicorn colt, Davin. Then there was Eryn, accompanied by the ugliest creature Gavin had ever seen. Apparently, Lorcan had been a gift from Eryn’s father, Lance, shortly before his death, though Gavin was never certain as to how Lance had come upon a young griffon. Rayne had been the last to come to the valley, but even she received a creature companion, the elvish wolf Kadin, not long after. But Gavin…he hadn’t had a creature companion. Not until Adaliz.

Gavin had been about 13 when he found her, a young she-dragon living in one of the many caves that dotted the valleys of Ardenia. She was young as far as dragons go, perhaps a couple hundred years old. Not as if Gavin knew much about dragons, though. They had been nothing more than stories to him, creatures of myth and legend. But Adaliz and Gavin had become fast friends after their first meeting. He would know her anywhere, and it wasn’t just because she was possibly the only dragon in Ardenia. Adaliz had a special birthmark, an ivory design on her right shoulder that looked similar to an elvish rune, though even the elves did not know what it meant. Whatever it meant, though, Adaliz was a loyal companion, one who had been there for Gavin through many tight spots, not the least of which boasts to Eryn that he then had to back up.

All of a sudden the high-pitched call of a horn echoed above the roar of the wind.

“You hear that?!” Eryn exclaimed, looking over his shoulder toward Gavin. “Food!”

Introducing…Razi!

Some time last school year, (I don’t remember exactly when), I took the first chapter of The Four Stars into Rough Writers, the writing club that brought me to the university I now attend and which I have been a part of since the very beginning. There is nothing more refreshing for me, as a writer, to get together with other writers and get their opinions on my work, and I was curious to see what the club members had to say about my first real book.

Their opinions varied, (all the members were my friends and some are slightly more biased than others *you know who you are*), but one thing they did mention was that in my original version of The Four Stars, I introduced all the characters far too quickly.

It seems to be a common failing on my part. I have never really believed in such a thing as a “lone hero”, and so most of my stories involve a relatively large cast. In regards to The Four Stars, with four main heroes who all have creature companions, it was really easy to rush right in and glide over character introductions. After all, the original story was written for me and my friends. It was a private matter. I didn’t need to spend a lot of time introducing them because they were us.

As such, you can imagine that one of the first things I did when rewriting The Four Stars was to spend more time introducing each character. And, as I have posted very little from The Legend of the Stars series, I thought perhaps I would introduce you to the characters as I go.

The first character that I introduce is Razi. You can see my inspiration for her below:

My inspiration for Razi
My inspiration for Razi

Razi starts out as a timid, daydreamy character who frequently compares herself to others and underestimates her own abilities. In the original story, my introduction of her lasted all of a few paragraphs. This time I took a little more time not only to introduce her but to build up the environment as well.

I will post the introductions of other characters as I go. Please enjoy and don’t forget to post if you have suggestions for improvement!

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Bright rays of late-morning sunlight glittered off of dewdrops as the sun began to peek over the cliff edges into the winding valleys of Ardenia. The cry of an eagle echoed over the landscape as it swooped low across the sky, gliding effortlessly on the gentle breeze that danced between the valleys’ cliff faces.

One valley, though small in comparison to the many others that surrounded it, was still easily noticed, for even at a distance a traveler could see the tall, spreading branches of an enormous tree poking up above the cliffs’ edges.

The tree, the greatest of oaks, was spread out wide across the valley floor, being some 50 feet in diameter and built like a small fortress. A round-topped doorway and a few scattered windows had been carved into one side of the old tree, and a chimney of river stones and mortar protruded from the oak’s massive trunk, spewing a steady stream of smoke from the fire that burned inside.

The valley itself was something of a little paradise. Opposite the river-rock chimney, the great oak plunged its massive roots deep into the bed of a crystal clear stream. Horse chestnuts and Hawthorn shrubs, all very big and old, dotted the valley and sidled up to the stream’s edge, their blossoms perfuming the fresh valley air.

Off to one side of the stream sat Razi, a young woman of 18. She was currently perched atop a flat boulder that protruded out into the stream, her bare feet dangling in the cool water below. Her dark brown eyes stared down, as though mesmerized, at her slender feet which she swayed back and forth in contentment. She didn’t even shift her gaze when a light gust of wind twirled her long red hair around like a festival dancer.

“What are you looking at?”

The young woman’s head flew up in surprise and she turned to look at the speaker, a cream-coated equine with large, downy wings and a long, spiraling crystal horn. This was Davin, Razi’s faithful companion. Half-unicorn and half-pegasus, which Razi most commonly described as a winged unicorn, Davin was a loyal mount and protector, one that Razi had raised by hand when she herself had only been a little over six years old. Of course, she had had the help of her father, but Razi was still Davin’s mistress and the pair were very nearly inseparable. He was a misfit among unicorns and pegasi alike, but that had never mattered to Razi.

“Oh,” the young woman laughed, grinning sheepishly at her equine companion. “Um…I don’t know what I was looking at, actually.”

For a moment Davin said nothing. Then he snorted, “I never understood how you could stare for hours and not know what you were staring at. I think I will never understand humans.”

A quiet laugh escaped Razi’s lips as the winged unicorn bent his neck and began drinking from the stream. It wasn’t just non-humans who didn’t understand her tendencies for daydreaming, for lapsing into thought or, in this instance, to lapse into a state of no thought at all.

For a moment the young woman watched her companion in indifferent silence. Then her eyes softened slightly. She was fond of Davin, sure, but what she liked more was the fact that he was a constant reminder of her father, Delwynn, and the life she had lost ten years earlier.

It was hard to believe that it had already been ten years since she and her three friends – Rayne, Eryn, and Gavin – had been brought to live in this little valley, a paradise and a sort of balm that had helped them to forget that they were orphans, their fathers dead, their mothers mysteriously vanished. Well, forget wasn’t really the right word for it. Perhaps cope was the better term.

Quietly Razi glanced over her shoulder, down along the valley to a stand of birch trees and wildflowers in the distance. A long pile of river stones could be seen peeking through tufts of bright green grass, the final resting place of the one who had taken care of Razi and her friends during the hardest moment of their lives. She had been generally known as Aunt Effie, a caring old half-human, half-valley elf who had cared for a great many youngsters in her long life. She had been the nurse of Gavin’s mother and seemed to have readily taken on the four orphans after they lost their parents in a matter of days. It had only been two years since she died. It hardly seemed real.

Razi knew that she must have become lost in thought again when Davin bumped her shoulder, shaking her out of her daze.

“I came to tell you something,” the equine said as the young woman turned to look at him.

“You make me aware of this how much later?” Razi laughed. “What is it?”

“Rayne sent me,” he replied. “She says that breakfast is ready.”

“Oh!”

With that, the young woman bounded to her feet and set off at a brisk pace toward the great oak. She was just reaching for the door handle when the door flew open, causing her to jump back in surprise.

In the doorway stood another young woman. She was a few inches taller than Razi, but though none could tell, she was a few months younger. Her hair was shoulder-length and a mixture of blond and brown, her eyes brown and flecked with gold.

“Rayne!” Razi said in surprise.

“There you are!” the other girl replied. “I was beginning to think you had gotten lost.”

“She did seem to be lost,” Davin put in, “though more in mind than anything else.”

Razi rolled her eyes.

“Davin only gave me your message a moment ago.”

“Nevermind,” Rayne shrugged. “So I guess the boys aren’t back yet.”

“No,” Razi responded, shaking her head, “but I’m sure the horn will do the trick.”

“You blow it, then,” Rayne said, heading back into the great oak. “I’ll…watch over the food until they get here.”

“As if it’s going to run away,” Razi laughed, lifting a curved horn off the wall.

“You never know,” her friend replied with a mischievous grin.

The red-head rolled her eyes at this comment, then stepped back out the door. Drawing in a deep breath, the young woman put the horn to her lips and blew. A high, quivering note echoed along the valley floor. Unless the boys were hiding in a hole somewhere, the sound would reach them, and there was no way they wouldn’t come when they heard it.

Big Dreams vs. Reality

trying to move a boulder

Okay. Let’s face it. I dream big.

When I first decided to turn my little hobby story The Four Stars into a series, I had this grand vision of a 24-book series of compelling novels following the history of that world from beginning to end. But after working on a history of that world for a while, I now realize that some of the things I had planned just simply wouldn’t work.

I’ve heard about it over and over again, particularly when it comes to fantasy writers. We spend so much time and invest so much of ourselves into our work that we just want to keep writing long after the story is finished, which is great…if you actually have a story to tell. But frankly, when I decided I wanted to write 24 books in this series, I really had no idea what I was actually going to write about.

I began to rearrange my series at the beginning of this semester. My reasoning behind it includes several factors.

The first thing that I changed was the series name. Instead of simply being The Star Series, I have now changed it to Legend of the Stars. I listen to a lot of music, and I have a playlist of “theme and end songs”. Because I “watch” my stories in my head, having a song to inspire my story actually helps me get a better idea of where I want to go with it when I sit down and write. This is what happened with the series name. I was working on ideas for the last book in the series, (because I like to get ahead of myself), and listening to the song “Homecoming” by Thomas Bergersen when I got an idea: wouldn’t it be awesome if it turned out that it was someone telling the stories after the recreation of their world? But if I was going to do that, The Star Series just sounds like a lame title. And so I changed it to Legend of the Stars, a name that I had played around with long before deciding to turn The Four Stars into a series.

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Another thing that inspired some changes, namely my recent decision to cut the main series down to 12 books instead of 24, was my new-found love of history books. I’ve always loved history. But due to the fact that I have been taking several history classes this semester, my love of history has grown. The most influential of my history classes is Medieval Europe. Because my books are primarily medieval fantasy, it’s really no surprise that I’ve found this class to be helpful in my writing. But it also inspired me to write a “history book” of Altha, the world in which my series is based. As I worked on improving my timeline and wrote down the history, starting with the mythology before the creation, I discovered two things about my original plan: one, I didn’t have enough inspiration or story to tell for some of the books I had planned; and two, some of the stories I had inspiration for had little to no bearing on the theme of the series. They were books about adventures and the lives of various people who lived in this world, but the series itself gained nothing from them.

Thus, I sat down and picked out the twelve I felt were the most important to the series. I also kept this thought in mind: “If this series is supposed to have been written by someone who lived in a world of evil to a generation that has never known evil, which stories would they consider to be most important to their goal of preventing evil from coming back?”

Some of the planned books I eliminated altogether, putting the ideas, instead, on a list of possible short stories. Others I set to the side to be written later, maybe just as fun little side books.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with planning out a series ahead of time. However, there is always the danger that the books will become more of a personal comfort than an actual, legitimate story. As I learn more both about writing and about the real world that in many ways I’m trying to imitate, and as I get a clearer idea of what my goal is in writing a 12-book series, I expect there will be some changes. But then again, that’s the beauty of writing. There is always something to learn. You can never be “good enough”.