Welcome to Empyrelia

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Fancy R

The Book of the Lost Royals is a massive tome of two million words in a realm of nearly as many peoples. Hidden from time in a secret vault that knew no decay, it promises to recount an unknown history from an age of wonders. And now, a meticulous translation has begun.

Starting from the front and reading toward the center, the Book tells of Amethestra Straverian, lost princess of the Kingdom of Evereign. A baby abandoned in the wilds, she was found by the unlikeliest caretaker, the one person in all of Empyrelia who might protect her from those dark forces that sought to destroy the world. Under this mysterious witch’s careful, if unusual tutelage, the girl known as Tildy will discover the world beyond the protective borders of the Garden of Dappledown.

Astute observers might find themselves compelled to flip the book over, finding there the start of the tale of Prince Adamantin Straverian, her brother. His story progresses also toward the middle, recounting how he was smuggled to safety under a dead child’s name, by an adoptive mother who would never love him as equally as the child he replaced. The boy known as Samor has grown up behind the walls of the remote ice fortress Yrrengard, being tutored and trained to recover the crown he is unaware he has lost. Continue reading

Cast of Characters – Project One

I started Project Two in the last month, and I’ve begun defining a number of character traits. Including my protagonist, Samor, I’m starting to see some life in my soon-to-be colorful cast. Earlier this week, a blurb (i.e. snappy synopsis) for a new character popped into my head and it inspired me to think similarly about my other characters.

So while I’m not ready to share Samor’s cast (Project Two), Tildy’s book is complete (Project One), and I can easily whip up something to share. A bit spoiler-y to those who want to enter the book with no details whatsoever.

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an example of Tildy's approximate look

Tildy’s skin tone, though her hair is lighter and much shorter.

Tildy – Our heroine! A princess smuggled from Evereign as the kingdom fell and her parents died. She was lost in the wilderness, the sole survivor of the caravan taking her to safety. No one knows that she – or her fraternal twin – still live. She is whip-smart, well-read, and fearless, inspired in equal parts by Hermione Granger, Princess Leia Organa, and Jean Louise “Scout” Finch. She is a shapeshifter of a sort, which means she can be any kind of girl in the world, whether in skin tone or body shape. Unlike most girls, however, she gets to choose the form she is most comfortable in. Well, sometimes, which makes puberty more challenging. Marvelous as this talent is, her ability to grow wings is what she values most. She hasn’t quite accepted the witch as her adoptive mother, despite their twelve years together.

The witch

The witch describes herself as a butternut squash.

The witch – Long has she lived as a recluse of dangerous reputation in an equally perilous garden. She has a power hinted, but not seen even by Tildy, and a darkness that sometimes shadows her face. Wants nothing more than to hide her adopted daughter from a world that despises the unusual. Unnamed for now, for it is well-known that one does not use a witch’s true name, even in a book, lest terrible things befall you.

Fietha – A clever merchant of impeccable reputation…to the wary buyer. He is one of the few men the witch seems to trust, and his friendship with Tildy sets her adventure in motion. This is the character readers wanted more of – sorry, you’ll have to wait for Project Three!

Demensen – An old crofter from the witch’s past, lately returned with tales of monsters and death, and nowhere else to turn for help.

Marklin – A lost boy whom Tildy and the witch meet on the road. His bravery exceeds his size, age, and ability, yet proves himself, nonetheless. If Tildy isn’t careful, her first and last best friend.

Baron Greyson Stoneward – A cold, stern man of comforts who rules the lands in which Demensen lives. He is held in contempt by the commonfolk he failed to protect from the unseen monster that stalks the lands around his castle, the legendary Southershard.

Baroness Amaranth Stoneward – Greenwoman of Gardenstem, sent as a gift to the baron to become the Lady of Southershard. She enjoys the freedom of his disappearance. Her gardening prowess might rival the witch.

Fillofillo – An Obsequiant, a race that has a way of knowing things. This makes him an excellent, and proactive, chamberlain to the baron, but causes the secretive Tildy to be wary of him.

Ramora – The baroness’s maid and Tildy’s confidant. From her, Tildy learns that her own special abilities may come with a price.

Whishwhish – A Dryad who teaches Tildy the value of friendship and provides her first glimpse into the Fay world.

The Sarsenith – An unrelenting creature of living stone with an unnatural preoccupation for Tildy.

The Dark God Delosh – The First, the Warden of Lost Souls, the Abyss; a god of diminished importance in the world, It longs for the darkness and the quiet that existed before the Dawn of All Things.

the Abyss of Delosh

the swirling void of Delosh

The Slither-withers – An ancient race of snake-like creatures who have returned from oblivion to do their Dark God’s bidding.

The Mellifluent – A trusted servant of Delosh who conveyed the prophecy that connected the royal twins to the Grimborlen – the End of All Things. The Mellifluent has not forgotten that its master killed its entire race.

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There are other secondary and tertiary characters, maybe yet a surprise or two, but those are the main actors in the first book, which is the opening chapter of the series entitled the BOOK OF THE LOST ROYALS.

Welcome to Empyrelia.

–Mike


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© Michael Wallevand, Groundhog’s Day 2020

Project Two Begins

Officially, on December 30, 2019, amidst busy holiday activities and the search for a lit agent, I began the second book, though it has two previous beginnings which I’ll cover below.

For those of you following the creation of Tildy’s story – and I thank you for that! – we now travel hundreds of miles north, to the borders of the Frozen Blight where lives Tildy’s brother in the ice fortress of Yrrengard.

Similar to his sister, Samor was also presumed dead but smuggled from the capital city of Evereign. Whereas she was lost in the wild, he escaped under a dead child’s name to be raised by new parents who will always see him as a reminder of the son they lost. To add to their bitterness, they are raising the heir to the throne, a weighty duty that overshadows any affection they might feel toward the baby.

Tentatively entitled:

SAMOR LASTNAME and the WARLOCK OF NEVERMORE.

Obviously, considering I have a placeholder surname for my protagonist, it’s a working title. But it’s one I’ve had in place for two years or so, which leads me back to my point about beginnings.

As with all the books in this project, I’ve been writing out scenes and character notes, capturing location and people names, and other miscellany since I started working on Book 1. It’s one of the reasons the first project took four years: I needed to understand where I was going, who lived in my world, and why things were the way they were.

For the Prince’s first book, I’d been more focused on some of these details because his story is often a compare/contrast version of Tildy’s. So, as I made a major decision in her life, I would often jot down a complementary plot point for him. Or have him make the opposite decision. It’s a bit “nature vs. nurture”, but it will be a subtle thing and certainly written without the conscious intent to prove that one is more influential than the other.

I also used his book to recycle some scenes, characters, and storylines that didn’t fit in Tildy’s story. It taught me a valuable writing lesson.

You don’t have to put everything in the first book.

…although, at 188,000 words, it might feel like I did.

Anyway, back to the point. The Prince’s project goes back even further than Tildy’s . Nearly twenty-five years back, to be specific. I had more than a hundred thousand words before I set it – and my fledgling writing career – aside. It was a difficult decision, and it weighs on me still, but I chose family stability over what I considered a gamble. Fortunately for me, every few years I made sure that the text was converted to the latest word processing software…because I still thought I had something worth getting back to.

And as of December 30, I did.

Here’s to a successful New Year for all of us, and for me, the return to Samor’s story, one that is filled with Dragons and threadwolves; blizzard demons, Ogren, and warpallahs; and history, myth, and magic.

Good luck with your writing in 2020!

Mike


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© Michael Wallevand, January 5, 2020

 

Author’s Journal – 12-20-19

It’s been a lazy writing week since my last post, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been working on the project.

1. I got kicked in the face by the flu. Knocked me out for two days, and it’s about the only thing that keeps me from putting any thought into my work. Through the fever and lethargy, I did manage one related thought, however: I wonder when my print order will be complete?

2. Turns out, it was done in a day. I work for Thomson Reuters, and our Copy Center gives us a nice deal on personal printing. I ordered six copies of the 373-page manuscript and had them spiral bound with plastic covers. They’re now taking up considerable space on our table as I prepare some mailings.

Wonder Woman pushes buttons

3. I connected with a Trusted Reader who’s in the home stretch. He’s now reached the chapters that I split in half, based on his direction (read more here: Difficult Choices #1).

4. Did some more lit agent research. I’ve had two friends send me agents to look up, which is much appreciated. Now that I’m on my holiday break – from the office job – I’ll be spending more time on this….

5. ….and a smidge of time on the next book. This will likely result in updates to this website since information on Samor is scant.

6. I upgraded my WordPress account, which I’d been considering for a while. There was a sale – in December, what? – so I finally pulled the trigger. Primarily, I did this because of the ads my site displays. My pages look different when I’m logged in, and it’s jarring when I open the site when I’m logged out. So, I’m taking some control over the appearance of ads. I have zero expectations of income. I Just wanted fewer ads greeting a visitor.

I write posts like this to illustrate that bringing a book to life is more than just writing. Are the things I listed above requirements for success? I have no opinion based on experience, but I’ll guess “no”. Every writer’s journey is unique, even if we follow similar paths for a time. It’s the effort that’s important, and only each person can evaluate whether tasks like these are adding value to their project.

Mike


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© Michael Wallevand, December 2019

Eight Seconds To Sidewalk – Writing Exercise

As I prepared to write about hitting 100-post mark, I stumbled upon this other post from three years ago: Flash Fiction: An exercise in editing. If you’re unfamiliar with the style, the post will give you a quick understanding. Go ahead and read it. I’ll wait here.

In the post – which you may or may not have just read – I’d promised to share an example. Now, three years later, here it is. It’s about 550 words and a quick read.

Eight Seconds To Sidewalk – 2009

Tom opened his eyes. He saw the top of the skyscraper falling away from him as he plummeted backwards toward the street below.

He was falling. Falling! He only had a few seconds to figure out why. He wouldn’t have time to be angry. Or regret the things he hadn’t done. He wouldn’t even have time to panic, though somehow he didn’t feel like he could if he wanted to.

He was always logical, figuring things out. His brain told him to sort this out. He needed to know why this was happening. It mattered. For some reason, it mattered. And it was mattered that he knew who was responsible.

Continue reading

Author’s Journal – 12-11-19

As I mentioned in my post The Book Is Done, I completed the final edits and locked the book. It’s as final as it will be until I connect with a literary agent.*

Here’s what’s happened in the last week.

Tildy Silverleaf and the Starfall Omen1. *OK, so when I said I “locked the book”, that doesn’t mean I can’t add the updated title treatment or move the page numbers to the side margins (this saved me six pages, which will add up when I pay to print it).**

2. Upon posting that the book was done, I received dozens of congratulatory messages from family and friends, which was fantastic. I also received one apologetic note from a Trusted Reader who was embarrassed for feeling like he wasn’t qualified to provide feedback. He didn’t hurt my feelings and I told him so, basically what I wrote in That Time I Shared My Writing #2.

3. Bought some supplies for a mailing. Tuesday night I did some testing of the materials. I’m going to be vague because it’s part of a surprise for a few Trusted Readers, but there’s a tease on Instagram.

4. I’ve done some other blogging: Let’s get kids to love stuff talks about encouraging kids in the things they love, and in 100 posts already? I talk a little about my goals for the website and share links to some of the more popular topics.

Busy week; lots of good stuff happening.

–Mike

**NOTE: Writers promise they’ve locked the book all the time.

John Mulaney stand-up "New in Town" (2012)


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© Michael Wallevand, December 2019

 

100 posts already?

That’s like, a hundred little stories, which feels like a nice way of restating it.

Congratulations on writing 100 posts on The Lost Royals!

This notice surprised me in my WordPress app the other day. I certainly don’t feel like I’ve written that many posts or sent some 50,000-words into the Internet ether.

That means I’m posting about every two weeks, which is more frequently than I expected (although when I look at the history, my schedule is more erratic than that). And I’m getting 30 views per post, which isn’t much if you’re a commercial website, but for a guy who’s just creating a little content to give people a peek behind the writer’s curtain, I’m happy with the results.

Data and metrics are fine and all (is this guy an English major?), but I went into this website project with different goals:

  1. Updating people on book’s writing progress
  2. Marketing the project
  3. Giving myself another creative outlet when the manuscript needed a break

To these ends, the website has succeeded. Beyond that, it’s been fun, which is often a better motivator than anything else.

However, it can be challenging, too. The writing style is different, and unlike the manuscript, it needs to be polished now. Well, polished-ish. None of that writing and rewriting for a year stuff I’m doing in the book. Similar to the book, some days it feels like work; on others, it’s a pure creative pleasure.

What’s he been writing about?

Continue reading

Let’s get kids to love stuff

man dangling noodles into his mouthWe got a text from our neighbor this morning. His daughter loves to cook (she gets it from him) and was enthused that we were enjoying the things she made. They both like to share, and my wife often makes something in return. Here’s what the text said:

Her response to you using her frosting: “Yay! That makes me happy! Let’s make big fat noodles next, everyone likes noodles.”

As you might expect, my response was encouraging, and not just because I really do like big fat noodles. I saw that she loved cooking and I never want her to lose that passion. Simple as that.

As a parent, it’s not that hard to recognize the importance of helping your child find something they like, and then foster a love of that within them. It’s not just about developing a relationship with them, but it’s about helping them find things that bring them joy and might guide them their entire lives. This morning, I was reminded of the important role that adults – not just parents – play here. Continue reading