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The Beginning

The Beginning

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For all readers,

Especially anyone who is new to the dream or has only recently stumbled over my craziness. This is my forum for insanity. Here is where I admit all the crazy truths about my author’s walk. Even if they make me look silly or naïve. Especially if they call out how shortsighted and ridiculous I really am. You have stumbled upon Ophelia Kee Speaks.

For all my readers,

Especially those who have been with me for a while. It still amazes me you come back and keep reading. Thank you so much. You don't know how much it means to know that people enjoy my insanity.

The first truth I must tell is this: I have no formal training in fiction writing. Are you surprised?

I’m college educated with degrees in history and geography. But the most education I ever got about writing was in my English 101 and 102 classes at community college. It never occurred to me I might not write a book. Only when others gave me the look that said I wasn't qualified did I even consider. But let them judge. It's okay. The ones who like my stories are my tribe. The others are people who chose a different crew.

An invitation

So, I love to read. No secret there. And then I wrote a story. Sort of. Ahem?! What was that? (Insert the sound of my mother clearing her throat as she glares at me for fibbing.)

I guess the second truth must be that I wrote a saga, and it has morphed into a reading experience. If a story was Carnival, that might be the best way to explain it.

The reasons for that are long, so I’ll come back to it later because what I need to explain first is how I wrote so many words with so much going on in my life. I have had people question if I did it all myself. It was all me. I write my own stories. I use AI for the audio and for the edits, but not the writing.

I’m what’s known in the writing community as a chaotic pantser. So, I don’t plan how the story should go. I don’t create outlines, bullets, or mind maps. I just write the scenes that flow through my mind rather than plotting the story along a plot arc. My stories are definitely character driven. If I write a scene (chapter) a day, it doesn’t take long to create a novel-length story. It's sorting the scenes that take so long.

There’s no prewriting. There has been lots of research though, check out that here.

I have sixty-nine plus published titles in the saga, including four spinoff miniseries to date, and I’m still writing. I’ve even considered writing in another world. (SHHH! Don’t let the guys in the dream find out!)

Seriously though, if you were scratching your head wondering where to begin or whether you could start anywhere, I got you. You can enter the dream from many points. I would begin with my site and then buy a book. Let’s save that for later, as more of the background is necessary to explain where all that came from.

The real-life version of me teaches social studies to high school students. (Don’t get me started on the real-life stories I could write about that. Maybe someday. Until then, back to the dream.) I’ve been teaching for over fifteen years at the time of this edition (It’s January 2023 as I pen this).

I mean, I’d done it so long by the time I started writing that I’d even trained others how to teach. I’ve taught ninth through twelfth grades, histories, geography, economics, government, etc. ad nauseam. Public, private, charter, homeschool, and even Job Corps are on my resume. I’ve taught in three states. Sometimes even I don’t believe it.

Ophelia Kee Avatar

I got bored, so I pursued certificates to teach special-education, gifted and talented, English language learners, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, Dual Credit Facilitation, and even online credit recovery. I co-wrote the history course curriculum to bring IB World School to my high school campus. (Hands down the most cerebral endeavor I was ever involved in.) Still bored…

The resume on that side of things might see some people in an early grave if they were forced to listen to it read aloud. So let’s skip it and get back to the good stuff like steamy paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and magic.

In early August 2016, (Okay, now we get to the real reason I started writing and the disaster that turned out to be.) I was sitting at the back of a training meeting. The training focused on a program I’d been using with my students for many years. I knew it inside and out. It was the fifth time I’d done a training similar to it on the same subject in as many years. (Tax dollars put to good use.)

Lost One Mock up

Cell phones and reading a good book would have been preferable, but also rude. Laptops were on the menu. I answered questions and acted as if I cared about that boring meeting. And I continued my day job because I wear golden handcuffs. I wrote about it on Ophelia Kee Speaks once.

Instead of walking out and being fired from insanity induced by boredom, I had an epiphany. I thought, ‘I could write a story’, even if I couldn’t read one. (Imagine the audacity of me?!)

Like everything else I dreamed I wanted in my life, I chased it. I started writing. It took a while. There were some wrong turns, but I made it.

I wrote The Passion for Writing. You don't feel like reading another post? It's okay. Head over. It's on YouTube, so you can watch it instead.

Shameless Self Promotion

So I need to admit a situation I ran into recently. I started writing what I thought would be a stand-alone book that I wanted to give away to my Newsletter subscribers. It was going to be finished by the end of 2022. Well, life happened. And I happened to the story. Lunar Dark turned into a four book miniseries. It's nowhere near being done. Lunar Dark is close, but not the other three.

So, it's the middle of January 2023, and I still don't have a reader magnet. It's frustrating, even if I know I work for myself because I don't enjoy disappointing people. I also prefer to do what I say I'm going to do. Please forgive me. I'm going to have to pull back on the Mystic Dark stuff until I can wrap it up.

How is that shameless self promotion you ask? Well, it's not, but this next bit is. Allow me to reintroduce a manuscript I've been working on for a few years with a WIP excerpt from the Legends of the Woodsmen. You know the drill. It's subject to change at anytime.

This manuscript has been altered from the snippets I've leaked in the past as teasers. Those parts are still in there, but the story scenes have been rearranged, and the tale is coming along much differently than I originally expected. That's not really a surprise. It's a three-part story, which is essentially an epilogue tale, allowing a sneak peek into Draoithe's place in the dream following the eventual demise of Peter Elliot. (Nope, still not telling how that turns out yet.) You'll have to wait and see, but this tale might make a better reader magnet. As it ends with the beginning in mind.

Legends of the Woodsmen cover

Unexpected Sign

One Week after Halloween, 2016

He stepped out of the mist with his brothers. Nine Woodsmen, who wore only their loincloths and soft moccasins out of respect for the forest of Draoithe, found themselves in a stone circle facing the Queen of the Dream, her retinue, and her new favorites, the man known as the Dire Wolf King and his Tiger Queen. 

Zaldivar eyed the man. He was merely a second-order shifter from the Leaindeail. He couldn’t transcend realms as a Woodsman could, yet he’d been raised to the level of a lesser god. 

He was supposedly higher in social rank than the Woodsmen. Zaldivar’s arrogance would have him scoffing at the idea, except that no woodsman had been raised to the level of a lesser god in centuries.

The Dire Wolf King appeared to be nothing more than a powerful pack leader. Yet the White Buffalo Woman held him in high regard. Why? What made the man so special?

Zaldivar Oakwood gave the man a chance. Surely there was more to him than met the eye. If he could offer the Velosians aid in acquiring woodwives, Zaldivar had nothing to lose by offering his respect. 

He was long into the fade, even if his appearance belied that fact. Only his mate could prevent his eventual return to the forest as a tree. That or worshippers who wanted the aid of a forest lord. That wasn’t happening. 

Introductions were made. Oddly enough, Luke Mendez reached out to clasp forearms with him. Zaldivar’s estimation of the man’s worth instantly improved. Anyone who fought the good fight on the side of the Velosians was worthy of the friendship of the Woodsmen.

It was at that moment he realized the pristine nature of the forest behind him and the perfectly exquisite balance of magic. Luke Mendez was far more than he seemed, after all. The magic of the dream answered the man’s need.

Akiwa asked Luke to explain the situation. The Woodsmen listened carefully to a tale of horror. Pity for those who’d been abused rose in him. He didn’t doubt his brothers felt the same. No one should be mistreated, as the Lost Ones had been. It was good the evil of Elliot had been erased.

“They were broken. Their chances of finding their mates, stolen from them. They’re Lost Ones and are no longer truly alive; yet, they aren’t dead. They’re in a similar situation to the one you’re in. The fade is all that’s left for them, but I can’t just watch them fade away without at least trying to save them.” Eli’s voice wavered as she pleaded with him and his brothers to consider the women as potential mates. 

Zaldivar spoke quietly with his brothers. Eli was a warm-hearted woman for all of her quiet power. She wanted only to save them all, the women and the Woodsmen. 

Aiding Draoithe placed the Woodsmen in good standing with the White Buffalo Woman. The nine of them could form a council. The other Woodsmen would listen to them if they had woodwives. It would assure their places in eternity even if they weren’t lesser gods. A possibility to obtain god status among their kind once more might present itself.

Perhaps an alliance with Draoithe could aid other Woodsmen, who also needed woodwives. His brothers considered his words and agreed. They would attempt it if it was possible.

The Woodsmen wanted woodwives. The question before them was how to claim the Lost Ones? If they could save the women, they would claim them as woodwives, but they had to be sure it could save them first. 

It would be the beginning of a true immortal council of Velosians. They lost the age of Volos to the past. A Council would serve the remaining Woodsmen better. 

The Woodsmen desperately needed lasting leadership. As humans stopped worshiping the gods of the forest, the old methods of finding woodwives and building their community had faded. The fade was quickly destroying his people. They noted it, but the solution was beyond their ability.

A change had come. An opportunity presented itself. If the Woodsmen wanted to continue as men, that change needed to be embraced. He and his brothers chose that change. They waited for the Lost Ones.

“We wish to see if these Lost Ones could become woodwives. If it’s possible, we would aid them,” Zaldivar spoke for the Woodsmen after they’d discussed it all. Eli smiled and nodded. Luke gave orders.

A line of miserable and dejected women plodded along the path beneath the stars, encouraged by a group of women dressed as nurses, and finally stopped behind the stone circle when they reached the top of the hill. The ulfheonar nurses stepped back into the shadows of the trees, leaving the cadaverous waifs bewildered. 

Many sank to the floor unmoving, staring blankly at nothing. Others squatted with their arms around their knees, rocking on their heels. 

It bothered him they’d been herded along like cattle headed to the slaughter. They would have preferred to sit still and fade away. The sorrow and loneliness of their existence echoed from them in a strange melancholic mirror of the loneliness the Woodsmen had.

It was horrific and surreal. It pressed home to him in a way he’d never faced, just how serious his situation was. An opportunity to remain the Woodsman he was rather than fade back into the forest from which he’d risen had to be respected, even if it was nothing like the fantasies he’d often had. 

Fantasy was for a youth long left behind. At nearly the eighth decade of his life, he had only about twenty years left as a man. He needed to contemplate the opportunity before him. He cast his pity and his fantasies aside.

The halcyon days of the Woodsmen being raised to the status of gods had long ago faded into the past. Their greatest hope in the age he’d been born into was to surpass the century mark before they returned to the forest whence they came.

If woodwives could be claimed, then a few of those who remained might band together and create a realm for themselves. They could form a council and aid the others. New ways of protecting the forests could be found. New magic could be crafted. Allies were needed. 

The situation was bigger than his personal need. The last of the Woodsmen needed him and his brothers to step up and decide for all of them before there were no more of them.

Zaldivar took the first step toward the women. The others followed him, and they left the stone circle to move toward the trees. The women didn’t move, try to avoid them, or even acknowledge their existence.

He might still appear to most as a young man, full of life and vitality. He still had all of his strength and his skills with his magic, bow, and axe. The oak striations of his skin, however, left no doubt of his advancing age for anyone who knew what to look for. 

Soon he would become the redwood, and if he was lucky, he would pass into ironwood before fading into the trees. He needed to claim his Woodwife to halt that process. Doing things differently wasn’t easy at his age, but he knew it would be a much brighter future if he could bow to the winds of change. 

As he looked at the women, he tried to decide how he could choose. It wasn’t as if any of them were welcoming. What criteria was he supposed to use? She would be only for him, but she would make him so much more. The situation was unorthodox...


Question to the readers:

What do you think? Would this be an acceptable replacement so long as I promise to give you the Newsletter subscriber discount on Mystic Dark when it finally gets done?

(And by discount, I mean you get to read it for free for the first month, and it won't be available for anyone else to purchase during that time. As always, I can only do things like that on my own website.)

Only if I leak some more first? I think that can be arranged. Okay, if that's settled, the first part of the Velosian Tales should be ready to go by the end of March with grand hopes of publishing the other two parts by the end of the year. (They are almost done. I want to edit one more time and build the audio and video.)

Yes, you want this free tale and the opportunity to read Mystic Dark for free too? Alright!

Wait, did someone say, 'what about blog readers?' I'm afraid this party is a Newsletter subscriber only party. But you're welcome to subscribe now and get in on the fun.

Review request

As always, when you read, help an author you enjoy and leave a kind review. I have other work I must attend.

Be Careful!

Happy Reading,

Ophelia Kee

Thank you for your support! Welcome to the dream… Sincerely, -OK

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