Woo, woo, woot! One year in the making, three months past the due date I had in mind, and fighting high word count every inch of the way, this book has proved to be my most challenging yet. But it’s finally done.
A word about the series first: the Elf Gate books comprise a portal tale that stretches across several volumes like a story arc. Aija is mistakenly abducted into the land of the fae, where humans are outlawed and to be executed on sight. But she can’t find her way home because the gate she came through collapsed. With the help of Trizryn, the enigmatic elf who mistook her, Aija discovers fae have modernized like humans, only differently; that they are on the brink of civil war; and that she must learn to defend herself in a world full of magic she doesn’t understand. In trying to find a gate home before dragons destroy them all, they must unravel secrets not even Trizryn is aware of about himself and the fae court. This dark fantasy series combines elements of horror, comedy, romance, and adventure, in a modified steampunk setting. Rated for older teens due to language and violence.
I’m still in the process of updating author pages and such, but I’m ready to get word out there that the fourth book in the series is finally available. I published a short interview on Smashwords for its release. You can read the whole interview here: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/MelodyDaggerhart . But here are some highlights.
THE ATHELING picks up where THE DARKLING left off. Aija and her fae friends have a lot to accomplish in this book. They have to fix a broken airship and use it to rescue the hostages Ilisram is holding in Absin’navad and be prepared to confront him and any necromancy tricks he has up his sleeve. But, of course, things are never that simple. …
Time is running out with the dragons destroying the gates before Trizryn can find one to take Aija home, which means the falling gates are also taking chunks out the Veil that divides alternate realities. The dragons that have already risen are growing in number and are still prophesied to attack Brinnan, and Ilisram’s conspiracy against the Derra Eirlyn is looking more clear, yet more muddled at the same time. They need to get word out to the rest of the kingdom about what’s really happening in the fae court because they can’t trust the King to do it. And the King is still after Trizryn’s and Aija’s heads. …
This is still a coming-of-age story for Aija. This is still a spiraling-inward journey for Trizryn. Most of the characters introduced so far come together once more, along with a few new ones, for a full-blown assault on Absin’navad in attempt to free the hostages, locate the body of the Princess, and defeat Ilisram. So, there’s a lot of action in this book compared to the first couple where they were still learning to trust each other. I hope readers enjoy this fourth installment of the series.
The most difficult part of producing this book was, without a doubt, word count. I don’t usually care about it, but books that are too thick, particularly books by indie authors, don’t sell well. The fact that this is the fourth book in a series helps because fans who have enjoyed the first three books will hopefully look forward to more in the fourth. But I don’t want it to be too expensive to print or impossibly bulky for print when that time comes. Otherwise, I’m a big fan of series and long books, so I enjoy having more material to read on characters I’ve learned to love from books and TV shows. I love big books with new worlds and familiar characters that I can take my time exploring extensively.
The easiest part of this book was the flow of the action and dialog. My characters have a tendency to take over the story, and this one was no exception. But the interaction felt more fluid this time around — too fluid, if that’s possible. Which is why the excessive word count had to be curtailed. I had to cut out one scene entirely after about the third draft, but I fought hard to save everything else, even if it meant meticulously scrutinizing and cutting 20K words or more.
Many of the series questions will be answered in this book. Many more are pending. There are still one or two more books to finish. I initially drafted the final as book 5, but if it’s too big, answering all plot threads started is more important. I will split a large final book into 5 and 6, if necessary, to be able to give it the proper conclusion. The final book(s) will probably take longer to produce, partly for this reason and partly because I have a lot of personal things going on in my life right now that are demanding attention — the kinds of things that really don’t give a damn about whether I have readers waiting for the next book to drop while ideas are fresh in my mind. (*sigh* … life …) But I’ve already started revising the draft of book 5, so I promise diligence until completion as much as possible.
As always, I’ve also updated the previous books in the series to include information on book 4, correct minor errors, and give them more unity in publication formatting. You should be able to upgrade your previously purchased copies at the locations where you originally bought them.
Lastly, if you’ve enjoyed reading my drafts of this series as free web serials, please consider purchasing the final copies. Writers have bills to pay, too, and while these stories might be readable in a matter of a few weeks, they each took a whole year to craft. If you purchase a copy from either Amazon or Smashwords, please consider leaving a review to give other readers an idea whether these books might be something that suits them.
To those of you who have already left reviews for other books in the series or for the web series version of this one, or who just were present to offer support when I doubted myself (because artists forever doubt themselves), thank you for being patient and encouraging me to keep writing. I write first for myself because it’s part of who I am, and I will always have stories to tell because it’s how I process and play with the world around me. But without readers those stories are like plush toys in an attic, lacking children to love them. My readers are important to me. And I sincerely hope you enjoy the latest adventure in this series. 🙂