Wednesday, August 31, 2016


What did you guys think of my drawing of Ellya? I know, I'm not amazing at this yet. But I did have a lot of fun drawing my characters for you to see!

Today, I'd like you to meet Fari (in human form, of course)

Judge me not by her curls. It was my first time drawing curls.

You'll also know Fari from Coetir: People of the Woods. She's the witch of the Coetir, the one who leads her people in all things. Oh, and she'll be making another appearance in a later Druid Novel, so it's best not to forget her. *wink*

Today, I want to share with you one of the first times we ever see Fari. At this point in the story, I didn't even know who she was yet. She'd only been in the book a short time, and this scene really helped me to discover who she is as a character, as a person.

Excerpt #2 from Coetir: People of the Woods, by Rani Divine

© Copyright RAD Writing, 2015, All rights reserved 

I gasped almost before I opened my eyes. The ground beneath my back was soft—it wasn’t the ground I’d fallen on. And when my eyes opened, the face I most wanted to see was not there before me. Instead, the face was round and feminine, and there were flowers in a halo around it.
     She smiled with slightly pointed teeth and reached up to push the brambles of her hair behind pointed ears. My eyes widened and I raised myself up onto my elbows before I realized there was a corset preventing me from breathing. Her eyes narrowed with concern as I dropped back down to the ground.
     “Where am I?” I heaved, placing a hand over my chest.
     “You speak the language of the Vartes,” she whispered, her eyes widening once again.
     “Who are you?”
     Her face was marked with awe and wonder, but all I could think of was that I didn’t know where I was, and that I could hardly see.
     “Where’s Elim?” I demanded.
     She smiled down at me. “I am Fari,” she said, finally composing herself. “You are within the witch den, and Elim is waiting outside.”
     “Witch den?” My brow furrowed.
     “It is where we learn the ways of the Vartes,” Fari replied. “I have questions they have told me to ask.” She took my hand. “Would you like to stand?”
     I nodded, and she practically pulled me to my feet. My corset constricted around my abdomen and prevented me from helping myself off the ground. But her arms were firm under me, and she brushed the dirt off my backside as soon as I was up.
     “Thank you,” I whispered. I put my hands on my head and ran my fingers through the strands, pausing only momentarily at the pointedness of my ears. It was only after my hands were back in front of me that I realized something had changed, that something was very wrong. Instead of the lovely tanned skin I remembered having, my flesh was pale and lavender-violet. Instead of being covered in tiny hairs, I was covered in tiny scales, and the color changed almost imperceptibly as I stared down at my arms. Though the color wasn’t as pronounced as the light violet of Fari’s skin, my skin was unmistakably lavender.
     I screamed. I held out my arms and pushed up my sleeves, and I screamed. The pointed ears had been one thing—they were somewhat fun and I could easily hide them from the people in the village—but this was completely different. It wasn’t as though I could hide the shade of my skin from my own mother—and what would Caleb and father think? I was sure this would go against Caleb’s views of what was best for the village.
     But then again, so would crossing the boundary in the first place.
     “Please,” Fari said, placing her hand on my shoulder. “Please,” she said again as my scream faded. “It will be explained.” Her hand found its way to mine. “Come with me: I will show you.”
     My head nodded, but I was sure it was of its own accord. I could’ve sworn there was no part of me that wanted to go with her—but go with her I did.
     Fari led me out the door, and I realized we were underground. I had been lying on nothing but earth. The reason it was so dim was that the torches were sparse, and inside the room there had been only candles.
     “What is this place?” I whispered, staring up at the ceiling that seemed to extend for miles. I’d never even known a place this large could exist.
     “It is the witch den,” she said. “Come.”
     We climbed down a ladder made only of living vines, and when we reached the bottom I realized that Fari and I were not alone. A group of seven or eight older men—some of whom I recognized from the killing at the boundary—huddled together off to one side of the chamber. Dozens of women knelt in the very center of the room, and I could hear them murmuring in basic. And there, on the opposite side from where Fari and I stood, was Elim.
     I smiled, finally seeing the one face that I’d been looking for since my eyes had opened in this unknown place. But before I could go to him, Fari took my hand and led me down another path, away from the main room. “Wait,” I whispered.
     “You will see him soon,” Fari replied.
     We continued on, and it wasn’t until it was only the sound of my breath and the crackling of fire from the sparse torches that she began to speak. “We are the Coetir of the Dewin, as I’m sure you are well aware,” she said. “We serve only the Vartes. There have been few to ever go against the creator, and those who have were removed of their essence.”
     “The man at the boundary,” I whispered under my breath.
     “Marike.” She nodded. “His essence was taken because of the death of our witch, Sarit. We do not generally approve of such removals, but there was no other option in his case.”
     She was silent for a moment, and she led me into a small room off to the side of the tunnel. “You will need a change of clothes,” she said.
     “Why?” At that point, I had every intention of returning home at the end of the day. There was no way to tell what Lionel and the others would believe if I never returned. Would they assume the Coetir had killed me at the perimeter, or would they believe someone in the village had taken me captive? I doubted they would believe that I had crossed the boundary and joined the people of the wood. It was the only thing in our village that was completely forbidden.
     I wondered if I was about to find out why.
     This place was far stranger than I’d imagined.
     “I will explain.” She nodded as she sat on the ground inside the candlelit room. Her hand gestured for me to join her, but I knew that what went down would have great difficulty coming back up. It was why I’d always hated mother making me wear my corset to the perimeter. But my legs were strong from standing for such long periods of time.
     “Please,” she urged.
     I shook my head and placed my hand over my chest.
     “If your dress is a problem, then why not accept the one that I offer?” She smiled, and I couldn’t deny her. If I was to return home and someone saw me I would be thrown in the cells and the fighting would begin. And if I did decide against staying, I was sure Fari wouldn’t be opposed to helping me redress.
     She left the room, and when she returned she held a while silk dress. “Do you need help?”
     “Please.” I unlaced the front of my gown and turned around for her to unlace the back.
     “Why do you dress in such things?” she asked as my dress loosened around my bodice. “The Vartes does not require such things,” she added, her fingers working to loosen my corset.
     “My mother helps me dress,” I said. “I’m still a part of her house, so she decides what I am to wear.” I gasped quietly when she removed my corset, sudden relief flooding to my lungs.
     “Do you need help out of this?” She tugged at my slip.
     “No,” I whispered, turning to face her.
     She smiled and handed me the silken dress. “I’ll wait.” She turned and walked outside.
     The fabric was unlike anything I’d felt before. My people usually made our cloth from cotton or hemp, and most of our fabric had been handed down through the years, making it old and decidedly less than soft. Most of my own clothes had once belonged to my mother, and her mother before her. But this cloth was fresh, as though it had never been worn before. It was soft and silken, and yet strong—I doubted that I would ever be able to tear it. The feel against my skin was more blissful than I’d imagined—I’d only truly touched the fabric before on Elim.
     My gown matched Fari’s exactly. Purest white silk fell to my ankles, hugging at my chest and hips, and carried down my arms to my wrists, widening to bells at the ends of the sleeves. My throat was bared, the neckline covering my chest but allowing my collar to be visible. My hands smoothed the cloth down over my hips and backside before I called Fari to come back inside.
     I wondered if my family would even recognize me. At this point, it seemed like almost nothing of me was the same.
     “Please, sit,” Fari urged. “It will take time.”
     I sighed, but I saw no better option. So I knelt on the soft earthen ground across the room from Fari, and I felt somewhat sad as the fabric of my gown touched the ground. I dipped my head toward her, urging her to continue—I would not speak again until she did.
     “You know of the Vartes?” she asked.
     My brows furrowed, but I nodded. Elim had spoken enough of the Vartes for me to know it was their deity.
     “The Vartes is our creator,” she continued. “The Dewin were created to be one with the earth and all that is within her. We are the ones who ensure, with permission and blessing of the Vartes, that all of the earth continues in the original perfection. The Coetir have been given voice to speak to the wood, the wind, the earth.” Her eyes widened slightly. “Do you understand?”
     “The Vartes created you to ensure perfection of the earth.” I nodded.
     “The Vartes created your people as well—the untouchables,” she said.
     “Why do you call us that?”
     “You are no longer one of them,” she whispered, her eyes shifting to the ground. “It was what the witches have always called your people, in this place.” When she looked back into my eyes, she continued, “You know of the past between our peoples?”
     “I know what my father told me.” I nodded slowly.
     “Our peoples thrive together,” she replied. “But the untouchables did not agree with our ways. They fought against the earth and the ways of the Vartes, and we were forced to curse them. The curse was the precursor to the crossroads between our lands, and it is why we call them the untouchables. We cannot allow the two to blend together, as they attempted in the past. It would result in the loss of their essence.”
     “As in, die?” My brow furrowed.
     Fari nodded. “They would die.”
     “Then why didn’t Elim die, when he touched me?”
     Her eyes scanned up and down my body, and she smiled. “Do you not yet see?”
     In that moment, everything stopped. I understood what Fari had implied, but I couldn’t believe it. There was no way it could be true. Both mother and father were human. I was human. The change to my skin and ears was a fluke. I couldn’t be one of the Coetir—it wasn’t possible.
     “No,” I whispered. My body shook slightly, and I had no doubt that Fari could see it.
     “Allow me to continue,” she said, dipping her head slightly.
     I nodded, but it may have looked more like a violent tremble. I wasn’t sure.
     “Marike, the man you saw the elders remove, attempted to destroy the Coetir way of life.” Her eyes pierced into mine. “Our people require a witch, a woman who is closer to the Vartes than she is to the earth. Since the beginning, our people have followed the witches of the same line.” She took a deep breath. “Marike took the essence of Sarit, our witch. She had no heir among our people.”
     For a moment, we both paused. I could almost feel the sadness coming in waves off of Fari. She glanced all around the room, avoiding my eyes, looking more like she was searching for something.
     It was during that pause that her words settled in even more. Fari was implying that I was Coetir—but I knew that couldn’t be possible.
     She must have been mistaken.
     “Elim heard the voice of the Vartes, concerning you, while the elders were praying for the new witch to be revealed,” she continued. “I have heard the words of the Vartes as well.”
     “What did they say?”
     “The creator wishes you to be trained in our ways; the ways of the Coetir.” Her eyes finally settled on mine, and they did not leave.
     I felt like there was nothing I could possibly say. Elim hadn’t mentioned anything like this. Fari was implying that I would never return home, that I would remain here and train in the ways of the Coetir so that I could live out my life with them. But I wasn’t one of them. I was human. It didn’t matter that my skin had turned purple and developed scales, or that my ears were pointed, or, as I now realized, that my nails had narrowed and become more like claws. At heart, I was sure that I was still human.
     Then again, even if I was still human, this was a chance to learn about the Coetir in their environment. This was the opportunity I’d always wanted—to see the world I’d dreamed about since I was a child.
     A small smile pulled at the corners of my mouth, and a breeze blew around me.
     “You see?” Fari smiled, her pointed teeth making me wonder if mine would soon morph to match hers. “The Vartes is already connected to you.” She got up onto her feet and reached out toward me.
     I looked up at her, and I said nothing. I could see by the look on her face that she was ready for this conversation to be finished, but I wasn’t. There were still questions that needed answering.
     “I do not know what to expect from you.” She laughed, and the sound was unlike anything I had ever heard before. It was like the song of a bird, mixed with the sound of the wind in the leaves, and the stream as it trickled through the village I called home. It was all of these sounds and none of them, and it was beautiful and captivating beyond any sound I’d heard before.
     “The sound is the connection being expressed simultaneously,” she said. “The untouchables have been known to fear it.”
     “I don’t know how,” I whispered under my breath. I couldn’t imagine anyone fearing something so beautiful.
     “What would you like to have explained?” she asked as she sat down beside me, folding her long legs beneath her.
     “Tell me about the Coetir,” I whispered.
     “There is too much to tell,” she replied, taking my hand. “You must see.” Her smile was sincere and welcoming, and she squeezed my hand. “Elim would make a lovely guide—I cannot yet leave the den.”
     “Elim?” I could almost feel my face lighting up at the prospect of seeing my friend.
     “I’ll take you to him.”

Monday, August 29, 2016


For the next three weeks, we're going to be doing something extra fun in Too Many Books to Count. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I'll be revealing preliminary sketches I've done of some of my characters, as well as posting short excerpts involving each of these characters! As some of you know, I've recently started teaching myself to draw. This will be the first that any of you get to see how far I've gotten in my art. Don't judge me. I'm still a newb.

Everyone, meet Ellya. 

You know her from Coetir: People of the Woods.

That is, you know her as long as you've read it. She's my primary character, my first person narrator, and she's still one of the funnest voices I have running around inside my head.

So today I'm showing you one of my favorite excerpts from her, one of the first scenes where she really showed herself to me—a scene where I smiled very, very often.

Excerpt from Coetir: People of the Woods by Rani Divine

© Copyright RAD Writing, 2015, All rights reserved

     I woke with a start to the sound of mother’s fist pounding on my bedroom door.
     My eyes glanced around the room, at all of the leaves that had come in through the window, the pile of blankets that covered my shivering form, and the druid man who sat on the trunk in the corner of the room.
     I sat up, my eyes widening when I realized what I saw. “Elim?” I gasped.
     “Ellya, open this door,” mother shouted, pounding on the door once again.
     “Good morning.” Elim smiled. He was almost perched, squatting on top of my clothes trunk.
     “Elim?” I gasped again. “What are you doing here?”
     “I believe your mother would like to see you,” he replied calmly, his eyes shifting to the door.
     “She can’t see you,” I said frantically as I rolled out of bed.
     “I know.” He nodded.
     “Hide!” I snapped, pointing to the bed before I pulled on the slide that had locked the door. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Elim stand off the trunk and move toward the bed just as mother pushed the door open.
     “If you thought that you were going to leave this house without speaking to your father, you were wrong,” mother snapped as she barged inside.
     My eyes widened in shock when I turned around and saw Elim standing in front of the window, smiling at me.
     “Ma!” I squealed.
     “No buts, Ellya,” she replied. Her eyes surveyed the floor and she walked to the window, apparently unnoticing of the druid who now stood beside it. She pulled back the curtains before she got to work on my bed, folding the blankets and placing them at the foot of the mattress. “Go on, girl,” she said, turning to point her hazel eyes straight into mine. “Clean your teeth and brush your hair. I’ll have your dress ready by the time you’re done.”
     I nodded. I didn’t know what to say. My eyes shifted between Elim and mother, and my feet instinctively inched toward the door. It was my usual reaction: when I didn’t know what to do in any given situation, I left.
     And this situation was unlike anything that I’d ever imagined.
     I backed out of my bedroom and made my way to the washroom to clean my teeth, and out of the corner of my eye I saw Elim leaving my room behind me.
     As quickly as I could, I cleaned my teeth and undid my braids, running my wooden brush through the tangles until a scream issued from my bedroom, and I froze in place.
     “Noah!” mother’s voice echoed through the halls, calling for father.
     I dropped the brush and ran back to my bedroom, getting there just behind my father.
     Elim was nowhere in sight, and a small sigh seeped through my lips before I realized that if he wasn’t in my bedroom, he could be anywhere in the house—or anywhere in the village.
     If anyone saw him, they would panic. Having a druid in the village could only mean that the treaty had been voided, and that war was about to begin.
     “What is it?” father asked as he stepped into my room.
     “There’s a snake under your daughter’s bed,” mother replied. She held her hand over her heart and she was breathing deeply, standing as far away from the bed as possible.
     “I’ll handle it.” Father chuckled quietly. We both knew that I could’ve removed the snake on my own. I knew more about wildlife than mother did, having worked my post on the perimeter for so long. He turned toward me, green eyes almost identical to mine locking on my gaze. “Get dressed, Ellya,” he said quietly. “We’ll talk once I’ve handled this.”
     I watched while he knelt beside my bed to look beneath the frame, until mother took hold of my hand and led me back to the washroom.
     She helped me back into my green perimeter guard dress, and tightened my corset before lacing the front of my dress and smoothing it over my hips. “Finish your hair,” she said when she was done. “There’s bread on the table.”
     Mother walked away then, leaving me with a brush in my hands.
     For a while, time slowed. I didn’t care that Elim was in my house. All that mattered was that I was going to be forced into a match, and I cared little for the man mother had chosen. The only thing I could think of was that I was about to sit through a discussion with my father on how I was to behave from now on, and what my husband-to-be expected of me.
     “Do you need help?” Elim asked as he stepped into the washroom.
     I gasped, being pulled from my reverie, and dropped the brush in the water basin. “What are you doing here?” I whispered.
     “The Vartes told me to come,” he replied. He reached into the basin and pulled out my brush, smiling as he handed it to me.
     “Vartes.” I nodded slowly. “Why can’t mother see you?”
     “Your kind sees what they expect to see when they set eyes upon the Coetir,” he replied. “Because you wanted to see my true nature, you see it,” he reached out to tuck a strand of my hair behind my ear, “and because your mother did not expect to see me in your bedroom, she saw nothing.” He smiled slightly, his fingers toying with my hair. “It’s soft,” he whispered.
     “So, none of them will be able to see you?” I asked.
     He shook his head. “They will see what they expect, and if I am with you, they will see the one they believe to be most often with you.”
     “Adam,” I whispered under my breath.
     “Ellya!” mother shouted from the dining room.
     “Stay here,” I said. “I have to talk to father for a while, and then I’m going back to the boundary.”
     “Boundary?” His brow furrowed, and he tilted his head to the side.
     “The line between our land and yours,” I replied, nodding quickly.
     “Crossroads.” He nodded, recognition lighting up his face. “I will do as you say.”
     “Good.” I nodded again and smiled nervously up at him before I left the room, making my way down the short hall and into the dining space.
     I sat beside father at the table, and mother cleared the rest of the house. No matter how much I wanted Adam to be with me, I was left only with my father and a druid who was hiding in my bedroom.
     “Your mother’s made her choice,” father said.
     This conversation was uncomfortable for both of us. Father had never been the type to force anything on me. All my life he’d been lenient, allowing me to make my own choices, even if those choices went against the ways of the village. Mother never understood it. To her, women were women and men were men, and father and I were upsetting the natural order of things.
     “Caleb will have you, and you’ll behave in the way set forth by your match,” he continued, his eyes avoiding mine and instead staring at his own hands. “There’s nothing I can do to stop it, so don’t ask.”
     We both knew I hadn’t considered asking. I wouldn’t put my father through that, not after the last time. It always broke his heart to hear those words from my lips.
     “It’s not my duty to fight the ways of the village,” he said, “but I spoke to Lionel last night. It’s your mother’s decision.”
     I nodded. I already understood. There was nothing that any man save Caleb could do to get me out of this situation.
     “What have I been asked to do?” I whispered.
     Father’s eyes closed, and he shook his head slowly. “You will cease your duties as perimeter guard within eight months, and you will use that time to learn your mother’s trade.” His eyes opened and looked straight into mine. “You will sit at his table every fifth night until your wedding, and the two of you will begin to settle your affairs together.” He sighed once again, and turned away from me. “If there were another way, you know that I would take it.” His voice was almost a whisper, but I could still understand his words. “You were my pride.”
     “I need to go,” I whispered, taking father’s hand. “As soon as I can find a replacement, I’ll leave the guard.” It was what he needed to hear, and I was willing to say it. But I wasn’t about to lie down, and I wasn’t about to become what I was expected to be.
     I would make my father proud again.
     He nodded and I released his hand before running back to my bedroom. There was only one thing on my mind—how to get the druid out of the village without being seen by someone like me, someone who wanted to see him for what he was.
     “Elim,” I whispered harshly as I stepped into my room.
     He was standing in front of the window, curiously holding up a panel of my curtains to view them in the sunlight. “What is this made of?” he asked, turning to look me in the eye.
    “Cotton.” I shrugged, shaking my head. “I have to go to the perimeter—how am I going to get you out of here?”
     “They will see… Adam? When they see me,” he replied, his brow rising slightly.
     It was only then that I realized he didn’t actually have eyebrows. His forehead had a semi-circle of five distinct lines coming from his hair to just above his eyes, but there was no hair there. I tilted my head to the side and reached out toward him, smiling slightly when I noticed the somehow bright quality to his black eyes. My hand stopped on his shoulder, and I felt his smooth scaly skin beneath my palm.
     “What do you think about?” He cocked his head to the side, his eyes piercing into mine.
     I smiled brightly, but I didn’t know how to answer. “Come on,” I said instead. “I have to get back to the boundary.”
     By now I heard mother working in the kitchen, and I knew father would be long gone. The sounds of the house were quiet these days. Mother was the only one who worked here now—Adam and I were the only children she had left under her care, and soon it would only be the former.
     “Stay here,” I whispered. “Count to ten, and then come out into the main room and we’ll leave.”
     I waited until Elim nodded before I left the room, taking my water skin with me.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Fall (part 2)

Two weeks ago I posted a blog about falling in love, about how it’s too long a process to fit into a short story. Many of you disagreed with me, as I said you would. That’s fine. I fully expected it. And that’s why I planned this as the final to our almost-month-long series on short stories and novels. 

While falling in love isn’t a suitable topic for short stories because of the time and detail that goes into the act, there’s yet another reason why it’s not a good topic for a novel.

Falling in Love

Again, I’m sure some of you will disagree with me on this. You romance novel fans, for example. But remember that I’m really only telling you things that I cannot do with a novel, things that for me are not possible to be the focus of an entire novel.

See, the thing is, falling in love can be a very lovely aspect of a story. It can be a beautiful centerpiece, for example, but it’s not very good at taking the full brunt of the novel. Books want more to them than that, more intrigue, twists and turns, what have you. They don’t want to be consumed by a single act, no matter how long that act might take.

So if I was to decide to write a love story, do you know what I would do?

I would write something as far as possible from a love story, and show how the characters finally fall for each other near the very end of the book. Some of you may have witnessed this before, in one of my prior books. Out of courtesy for those who haven’t yet read my work, I won’t mention any of them by name. Spoilers and all.

In short, it can be done. Perhaps it should be done. But I would not try to write a love story until I was sure of the way in which I wanted to do it. And I still don’t write true love stories. I write novels, wherein a few characters may or may not fall in love. Because to me, that’s what real life is like. Some people fall in love, others don’t. It’s a mystery, an experience, and that’s what I want to show my readers.

So what do you say? Better to write about love in a short story or a novel? I’m keen to hear your responses.



p.s. Next week we start a series unlike anything I’ve ever done before!