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.
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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