Imagine crazy characters pestering you to write their story and dropping bits on you constantly. You have to interpret those bits and hike through previous bits to be sure you have it all right. That's what writing in the dream often feels like. Keeping the characters and their bits straight was sometimes difficult in writing a saga, especially after about ten volumes.
My sister who was beta reading for me even told me once, “I need a character list so I know who’s who. There are just too many dragons.”
So I did something that plotters do before they ever write. I created a character list. True to my chaotic style, I did it after the fact. I had to have a guide to be sure that I didn’t confuse details like hair color or eye color. My beta readers, AKA my sister and Mom, also needed the help.
Things got worse after Elementals and the full mor tuath coalesced because the magic needed a framework and soldiers. The underkings and queens tripled the members of the pack, which was at twenty-eight. Plus, add in a bunch of dragonsworn servants, red dragons, and their Valkyries by that point as well. I thought, "It's okay. What kind of kingdom only has a few people in it, anyway?"
I built all kinds of crazy charts and tables filled with notes and tidbits of information about the characters and how they connected. The one above is an example of who the grey dragons were and who their Valkyries were. It included their immortal monikers as well in italics, along with their magical abilities. I outlined the military leader in red. It needs title boxes and could likely use a bit of further sorting, but it was a start. Things like this made my early beta readers happy.
I write in fits and spurts rather than always concentrating on it, as I have that pesky full-time day job. So not all of my organized chaos was for other people. I grew tired of retracing my steps and rereading everything to be sure I’d written things correctly. I realized I needed some sort of guide. That's when I invented the calendars and some of the strangest charts with character descriptions. Some of it's digital. Some of it's handwritten as a true testament to my generation.
The calendars still hang in my office, and I still add details. I also still use them as references. Some day I will create the digital version of them so that when I'm not at home, I can still see everything and annotate them. I should build a timeline for each volume in the saga as well. Sharing the love with readers would only add to the experience and I long since gave up the idea that I'm writing a book. I know now that I'm building a world.
Reviewing the calendars and character lists for the blog post got me thinking about other extra details. Maybe a page or twelve with the strange vocabulary should be included in the books, explaining all the archaic and non-English magical terms. I did one for Tantalu (sort of), but I never crafted one for the main volumes or any of the extra tales or spin-off miniseries stories either. Perhaps that should be added to the other books.
A playlist for the characters who appear or are mentioned in a volume might be a pleasant addition to the books. I mean it's a saga and there are always cameo appearances. If you picked up a random volume and needed some background information on a character from a previous book or would enjoy a look ahead at a peripheral character that hasn't been closely examined yet, a good playlist or character description would be helpful. I need to stop hoarding the good stuff and share it with the readers.
If I get a chance, a diagram of the layout of the house and grounds, as well as the floor plans for the buildings, might be interesting. It would be almost like a strange sort of world map. As a child, I always loved looking at the world maps in fantasy books and imagining the route the characters must have taken on their fantasy journeys. So why not bring in some old-world charm?
If you hadn't guessed already, it's likely the new formatting software that has stirred the creative add-on ideas. With Atticus, formatting like that looks less daunting to me. I want to build the immersive experience of the dream, which includes far more than just the stories. That's part of my fascination with graphic novels or videobooks, as well as my interest in AI audiobooks and merchandise. I hope you will look forward to items like these appearing in the stories, at OpheliaKee.com, and for companion books and other materials to be crafted with all those interesting details and tidbits as I organize some of the chaos behind-the-scenes of the dream.
Shameless Self Promotion
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Alexio Asmodai is the demon king of Eaglafonn, a small outpost kingdom in the Netherworld overruled by the Demon Lord Asmodeus. It is Alexio’s responsibility to protect and police the frontier borders against any threats. He is an accomplished knight, so that part came easy.
Eaglafonn is a cold and isolated kingdom. Alexio needed to stay and build his castle atop the hot springs to beat an addiction to seduction sickness. After over seven centuries, he thinks his loneliness has finally ended when he opens a crate to find a woman sent by Asmodeus for him to keep safe. He falls for her instantly.
She is a human woman, fragile, timid, and irresistible. He must follow his liege’s directive, convince her to become his queen, and see that she is cared for properly in a place that is inhospitable to her existence. This leads to a realization that his castle lacks a lot to be a first-class home for a lady. Can a tainted demon prince rise to the challenge of becoming a true king and win the woman who stole his heart?
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The Shadow King of Eaglafonn has chosen his queen, but his castle lacks the feminine element. To make her more comfortable, he orders the demon princes to claim their mates. That is easier said than done.
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Behind the Scenes
I opted in for the free version of ProWritingAid recently. I don't know what made me wait so long. Maybe I thought it required a subscription, and if you're a long-time reader, you know I can't afford those things. I like it so far. I haven't tried it with Atticus yet, but when I do, I'll let you know how it goes.
They reached out to me on Twitter and asked if I would share their latest research findings. Since they were so nice about it, I said, "okay." So if you want to improve your writing, try it. If you want to see what they're doing, check out this snippet they asked me to share. And before you ask, Nope. I'm not a paid spokesperson for ProWritingAid.
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Excerpt from a Work in Progress
Once upon a time, I promised to post more excerpts from the dream in the blogs. I like to keep my word. While I don't think I'm ready to serialize this one yet as I'm not finished with it, I wanted to share some of the upcoming stuff. I need and appreciate Beta readers who can stand my chaotic writing style and ARC readers would be just as seriously loved. Should you think you would enjoy receiving free copies of the books in exchange for reading and leaving reviews, please email email@example.com. We will talk.
*** Warning: This is an excerpt from a Work in Progress!***
Subject to change at any time!
Read at your Own Risk!
Intended for a mature audience.
All Rights Reserved!
1 Strange Stirrings
He reached for her. She was beautiful, with wild brown hair and clear grey eyes. The woman melted into him, and their kiss was so intense that he wanted to melt into her. She was everything.
When the kiss broke, she smiled at him and slipped away from his embrace, beckoning him to follow, to give chase, and play in the forest with her. She was what he’d sought his entire life.
She was the balance, the feminine opposite of his masculine identity. He needed her, yearned for her. Zoren had lived his life, learning to be what she needed. He’d follow her wherever she wanted to go. Soon he would claim her.
He rose from his bed of soft feathers and called his leathers to him from the dream. His boots appeared on his feet and his cloak wrapped around his shoulders. His weapons were in his hand and he was running through the moonlit shadows, chasing everything he ever wanted as a woman who looked more like a goddess than anything he’d ever seen.
He glimpsed her white dress and the flash of a barefoot. Her soft laughter at the thrilling chase floated in the air between the trees, making him grin. He was going to catch her.
She should belong to him. Dirty thoughts of what he wanted to do with her when his hands touched her skin made him hurry after her with fire flowing through his veins.
His cock had disappeared between her kiss-swollen lips earlier. Only he could never have had enough of her to satisfy him. He wanted to plunge into her softness and bind their souls.
He frowned after a few long moments. He was swift, yet somehow she always seemed farther ahead. The distance between them was stretching out. It shouldn’t be possible.
He should have held her in his arms and had her back against a tree so he could kiss her breathless as his swollen member found repeated entrance into her body. Her legs should wrap around him and her heels should dig into his ass as she spurred him to finish their lovemaking. But he was still running.
The mist rose as white as her dress had been and crept upon the forest floor as fog obscuring the object of his chase. He could no longer see her. Her laughter no longer floated on the night breeze.
His panic rose. Losing her meant losing everything. He redoubled his effort. Failure was not an option.
He moved faster and came no closer to finding her. He sought her in the fog, using his magic to push the low clouds away from his vision and knotted them away from his face.
He ran after her. She was nowhere. She was gone.
He’d lost her. It was over. The thought to stop, sink into the forest, and let the exuberance of life leave his body settled over him. He struggled to breathe.
He woke up when his ass hit the floor of the bedroom he’d built on the top of the trees. The wrinkled, twisted sheets were wrung tightly into knots.
He blinked in the low light of the darkened room. Sitting naked on the bedside rug he’d twisted with his own hands, Zoren was confused to find himself there when he’d surely been running through the forest only a moment before.
He glanced at his gnarled hands. The darkening grey skin which was striated like that of the ironwood trees reminded him again of his advancing age. He was blending into the shadows of the forest. The fade was coming closer with each passing day.
The darkness was closing in around him. The dream of fading had come to him several times over the last few months. He needed a Woodwife if he would continue as a man. Failure to claim a woman meant his demise. Few Woodsmen survived alone to become Ironwood. Only the Velosian gods of old had all done so. There was no doubt about his lack of godhood status.
Zoren was determined and perhaps more arrogantly tenacious than most. He wanted his life. He’d built his home in a gorgeous forest that he zealously protected. Even he wondered how he’d survived for so long.
Still, fading wasn’t something that had ever appealed to him. He wished to remain the guardian of the lands he’d carved out for his own. That he would dream of the fade haunted him.
When the Woodsmen Council formed after nine had claimed Lost Ones, Zoren had renewed hope that he might walk into eternity rather than being rooted in place. He learned what was necessary and set about accomplishing the task.
Surely he must have the skill and experience to accomplish his self-appointed mission. It was no longer out of reach. Nine had claimed eternity.
He’d tried to win his Woodwife twice. He could only attempt it once a year, according to the Council. Woodsmen could only try four times a year as a group. The Dire Wolf King of Draoithe made some of the rules as the Heart Grove lay in his realm.
The members of the Council were forever young, vibrant, and bound to a woman who made them more. They had agreed to the terms set by the Druid Pack. The Council sought a permanent alliance with Draoithe. They lacked a true head of state. Yet the Velosians had hope.
If Zoren wanted his Woodwife, he had a pattern to follow and a chance to claim her. If others could do that too, the Velosians remain a part of the dream.
He wasn’t blind. He saw how the Woodsmen of the Council lived. They had what he wanted, what he’d worked to obtain for nearly a century.
The White Buffalo Woman had interceded for the Velosians. There was a proven way to gain a Woodwife. Others had claimed women for themselves and halted the fade following the Dire Wolf King’s method.
A few like himself had failed. He had failed twice. That simply meant that the pattern had to be held strictly.
He was angry with himself as he picked his ass up from the floor. He flung the bedclothes back on top of the soft mattress and strode out onto the treetop balcony.
He’d followed the Council’s advice. He knew the path he must walk to claim his Woodwife. The next time, he would win her.
The hour before dawn had come, and the forest was as quiet and still as it ever was. The cool night air of early spring eased his anger.
The Council had denied his petition to seek his Lost One at the Spring Equinox, granting it to a much younger man a week before. It had been over a year since he’d attempted to claim a woman from the Heart Grove, but that hadn’t meant that others didn’t also eagerly await a chance.
Why he was so furious escaped him. It wasn’t as if it was the end of the dream. He still lived. The Summer Solstice would bring another chance.
Sure, he was old and wanted another chance, but the younger man wanted that same chance. He’d failed as Zoren had expected the young man would. Age and experience seemed to help in situations like that.
Zoren was confident that he’d learned enough and wouldn’t have failed a third time. Yet the panic of his dream seemed more real than it had ever been.
He hadn’t been allowed to go to the Heart Grove at the Spring Equinox, didn’t equate with the burning ache of loss and pure anxiety that rode his mind.
Something felt wrong, but he didn’t understand what that might be.
He brought the axe around and began his practice. The routine of that practice had long aided him in ordering his thoughts. Something was wrong that he couldn’t quite explain.
It tickled his mind, and no longer allowed him to sleep. It felt as if it were a fading echo of a whisper on the wind. He shook his head at himself.
Only the Forest gods could hear the worshippers' voices in the wind. There were no supplicants requesting aid from the Velosians. He was certainly no god.
He would redouble his efforts. The Council would choose him to attend the Heart Grove at the Summer Solstice. That was the only option available.
Understanding the emotions that plagued him never came. Still, when he stood sweating on the deck high above the forest floor and his arms had grown heavy from the weapon’s practice, Zoren had a goal and the hope of remedying the situation. That was better than suffering and doing nothing.
Random images of the ethereal brown-haired, grey-eyed woman from his dreams crossed his mind, tormenting him with needs that left him seeking relief and daydreaming like a human teenage boy. At night when he slept, sometimes the nightmare stayed away. He caught the woman in white and made love to her in the forest. On those nights, hope defeated despair.
On the nights when the nightmare returned, he practiced his axe and the violet mist magic. He spent the time between the Equinox and the Solstice ensuring that every bit of advice and all the rules for claiming his Woodwife were met.
When the time came for the Council to choose a new Woodsman to enter the heart grove, Zoren was chosen to make a third attempt. This time, he would succeed. The lonely alternative was unbearable and would have likely meant his end. He refused that thought...
Thank you for reading Chapter One of The Woodsman. I hope you enjoyed this excerpt. Please leave your comments, suggestions, or questions in the comments and let me know your thoughts. As always when you read, please support an author and leave those kind reviews.
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