Official Cover Reveal

I’ve kept this jewel under wraps long enough. You have no idea how much I wanted to just put it out there. Without further ado – the official cover to ‘The Rising, Book One of the Painted Maidens Trilogy’:

THE RISING-final cover

Fifteen-year-old Serena is the youngest member of a dying race. The increasing acidity of the ocean is destroying her home, slowly eating away at the once thriving underwater landscape. But since the night of Serena’s birth, it is an outside force that most threatens their dwindling population. Werewolves, who once served as protectors for mermaids in the Kingdom of the Undine, now seek to eliminate all who dwell in the ocean—and Serena is about to find herself right in the middle of the deadly conflict.

Given the title of Werewolf Liaison, Serena is determined to make things right for her people. When she ventures to The Dry, she meets Liam, the werewolf with hazel eyes, and her whole world gets turned upside down.  As Serena discovers the real history between werewolves and mermaids, she is left wondering who her true enemies are.

Add ‘The Rising’ to your Goodreads TBR list now.

 

My Journey from Scrap Paper to Novel; Six Times Over

Several days ago, I clicked ‘save’ then closed the document on the first draft of my sixth novel. ‘The Rising; Book One of the Painted Maidens Trilogy’ is now with my awesome editing team, and an equally awesome bunch of beta readers.  I welcome the break as I wait for the feedback, but my fingers can’t stay idle for long – it is a curse and a blessing.  They itch to get back to the keyboard.

I’ve already started on the second book of the trilogy, but want to take some time to reflect on my writing journey, and how it came to be.  My first novel, ‘Water, Book One of the Akasha Series’, took nearly ten years to write.  It started in high school, when I would be stuck in class daydreaming. I daydreamed of a cute boy coming into the classroom to sweep me off my feet. I’d dream of an equally cute villain coming into the classroom to take us all hostage. I dreamed of fighting the snobby girl next to me. How would I react? What would I do?

I went through the same daydreams over and over in my head, changing minor details until the scene was perfect – then I’d go over it again. I couldn’t stop. Finally, in order to keep some level of sanity, I began writing them down. They were just scenes; not even complete short stories. It worked well in class, I looked like a very studious note-taker.

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I graduated high school and tried my hand at college. It was…boring. So, I joined the Marine Corps. Boot camp wasn’t so boring. And neither was the first two years in the corps.  But things settled down, and the daydreams started as once again, I sat behind a desk, this time at work but in cammies and boots. I can’t sit still for long.

I got married, had a child, and went back to school to earn my bachelor’s degree. I also resumed writing.

 

After five years, I left the corps for a career in the translation business.  The job was good, but I still continued to write.  Eventually, I took all these little ‘scenes’, saved in a folder from my high school years, and melded them into a story. I typed them up, working on my lunch break at work, in the early morning, or in the evenings.

IMG_3576In September of 2011, more than ten years after I started, my first novel was finished. My second novel, ‘Air’, only took two months. Since then, it has been a whirlwind of writing, editing, and marketing. I have six books and seven short stories to my name, and I still have so much to learn and do. The ideas are still flowing – I’m not sure I will ever be done writing.

One thing I’ve learned from writing on scrap paper, literally on the back of my biology notes, and eventually turning them into an actual published novel – even if it takes ten years, never give up!

Keep pushing for your dreams. If you never quite get there; the journey itself will be worth it.

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Water Cover Image_FinalAir Cover ImageFire V2earth cover hand biggerThe Kindred Curse Cover

The Rising

mermaid face
Digital art by Renu Sharma

There will be some very exciting posts to come out in the next few weeks; all centered around my next series.  I’ll have a cover reveal soon, and maybe even a book trailer.  For now, I’ll have to tease you with the title and blurb:

The Rising
Book One of the Painted Maidens Trilogy

             Sixteen-year-old Serena is the youngest member of a dying race. Increasing acidity in the ocean is destroying their environment, but there are other threats to her species. During the full moon, when the mermaids of the Undine Kingdom surface onto The Dry to breed, werewolves chase them off. The key to the survival of the Undine race lies with Serena, who has just been given the title of Werewolf Liaison. Serena believes it may be a punishment for her secret excursions to The Dry, but then the king himself brings her to trial for meddling, and  for risking the exposure of her entire species. The penalty, should she be found guilty, is death. If the changing environment or the pack of werewolves doesn’t kill her, her own king certainly will.

Sound enticing?  Add it to your Goodreads TBR pile now!

It seems not too long ago I was just beginning the writing process on this book (May 8 to be exact – I went through my old posts), and now the novel is becoming a reality.  The book is with my editor now.  Then it goes out to beta readers.  Barring any major setbacks, the tentative release date is September 19th, 2013.  If you missed previous posts, click here for the first chapter and here for world-building with mermaids.

Stay tuned for the cover reveal – you aren’t going to want to miss this one!

World-Building with Mermaids

Yesterday, I hit the 30,000 word mark with my first mermaid book. WOO-HOO!!! The average length of my books is 80,000, though I shoot for 90,000 words to allow for cuts during the editing process.  This means I am about 1/3 of the way there.  WOO-HOO!!!

My goal is to finish writing by the end of July. Then it goes out to my editors and beta-readers (speaking of, my list of beta-readers is growing, but if you are interested, see my post here). Final release date (crossing fingers until they turn white) is September 2013.

So, at the 30,000 mark, I’m done setting up most of my undersea world, introduced in bits and pieces throughout so it doesn’t come off as one big info-dump. I have to admit, this is the slowest I’ve ever written a book because I have to stop every few sentences to research something. Seriously – by the time I’m done with the series, I might just have to apply my research toward a Marine Biologist degree! I’ve even emailed a professor at Stanford specializing in ocean acidification with questions Google can’t answer, and I get a quick response! Note to self: include him in my acknowledgments.

World building is a difficult thing, and so you may ask, what does my mermaid world like? Below are some answers (just some – can’t give away all my hard work, yet), followed by a short excerpt.  Let me know what you think!

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Want to see some more awesome mermaid pics? Check out my Pinterest page: http://pinterest.com/terraharmony/mermaids/ and be sure to follow it!

What do mermaids call themselves, their kingdom, humans, the earth above, etc.? In my story, they call themselves ‘undine’ which means ‘water fairy’. Humans are ‘ungainly’ (meaning clumsy or awkward), and the human world above seas is called ‘The Dry’ (this one seems a little cheesy, so I may change it – feel free to offer ideas). The undine community is ‘Society’.

How is the ruling party structured? There is a king advised by his second-in-command and his council. The council is selected by the king himself and consists of the most powerful members of Society (head of the guard, head caste or ‘school’ master, etc.). All male undine join the king’s guard, simply because there are so few males left. There are about a dozen of them compared to maybe 300 females.

What is their schooling like? All undine attend school until they are 16 years of age. Each year is a different ‘caste’ (thus, caste master (school teacher), caste mates, etc.) At graduation, they enter The Choosing. They select three potential jobs they would like to spend the rest of their life doing, then during a ceremony are told what they are given. Most (and that is the key word – MOST) are given one of their three choices.

What do they eat? I just got done writing this part, and learned some very interesting facts myself! I found a very interesting article to help. Basically, the sea is an especially potent source of minerals. Whereas terrestrial vegetables are limited to what they can obtain from the soil, sea vegetables spend their entire lives luxuriating in the world’s largest, oldest, most complete mineral bath. They soak it up and are among the richest sources of iodine, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, manganese, and all other (56 of ‘em in total) minerals essential to the human body.

Basically, undine eat the dozens upon dozens of edible seaweed, plus fish and crustaceans. Our main character is a vegetarian, though. 😉


Where do they live?
The setting is in the waters of British Columbia, the northern pacific ocean. Browning Pass, to be specific, between the mainland and Vancouver Island. The undine live in underwater caverns, some which become flooded during high tide, and empty during low tide. For the most part, undine are protected from curious humans by dangerously quick currents running through the pass.

How do they have sex and give birth? Like fish or mammals? (I promise, this is a YA book – but this question is always on the tip of my tongue when I think about mermaids.) The undine in my series transform into their human forms to mate and give birth. Although they can transform at will (and it is painful for them), they only consummate and give birth during the full moon.

Where do the werewolves come in? Here is the exciting part! A while back, werewolves were actually created by undine to protect them on land while they mate and give birth – which is why werewolves only change during the full moon.

What is the conflict? Werewolves viewed their status almost as ‘slaves’ to the undine, so they revolted. It was a one-night blood bath, during the full moon, when several undine were giving birth, including the queen herself. The queen, the newborn prince, and several others were killed. In fact, the only one to come out alive was our main character, Serena. She grew up as an orphan, and because of the werewolf uprising, is one of the last undine to be born. The species as a whole is on the decline because of 1) ocean acidification and 2) they are unable to procreate.

 

So there is the start of my world! It isn’t everything, and though I may reveal more later, you’ll just have to read the book to get all of it. Below is a short excerpt, you can read the first chapter here (after the call for beta readers).

 

When Serena reaches the surface, bobbing between Vancouver Island and the mainland, the sun is already sinking into the ocean. Already, she can spot the outline of the moon behind her. It is waning, and though it may look the part of a full moon there will be no werewolves tonight.

Normally, she can swim in the shadows cast by seagulls skimming the waves for their dinner, moving in closer to shore undetected. This evening the skies are as deserted as is the thin strip of beach. A light rain begins to fall and thunder cracks in the distance.

Serena disappears below the water, resurfacing down the stream. Her eyes scan the shoreline for signs of life; ungainly or otherwise. Werewolves aren’t the only animal to inhabit these forests. Grizzly bears, coyotes, and the most concentrated population of cougars in North America all patrol the borders where Serena’s world ends.

She appears further up the coast. The rain is falling harder now, and lightning flashes in the distance as though the sky goddess herself is giving her the all clear.

One powerful push and Serena is caught up in the breakers. She swims just below the whitecaps, a mirror image of a surfer gliding on a wave. One of her fins slice up, catching a taste of briny air.

All too soon, the earth below angles up to meet the sky above, and the ocean disappears in a squeeze between them. Serena’s smile grows wider, as it always does when she flirts with the edge of the world.

She somersaults with the dying wave, fins brushing sand, air, sand, air. On the next flip, a cold wind scrapes against the bottom of her feet, freshly formed, still raw from scales retracting in. Tucking her legs for one more roll, she straightens them to stand. She sinks into wet sand as the remnants of a once powerful wave lick at her ankles; a desperate attempt to call her back into its clutches.

Serena moves forward, toward the moon. It is another force, almost as powerful as the ocean, calling to the undine maiden.