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 curiousity keeps landing her in the wrong place at the wrong time - to disastrous effect. 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.
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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