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Shadow in the Sea

Readers will return to Windwaithe Island once again. When sixteen-year-old Sadelyn Hanson washes up on the shores of Windwaithe Island, her beauty and the strange marks on her wrist make superstitious locals suspect she is a mermaid. Feigning amnesia, Sade hides a far worse secret: she was sailing to her own murder trial when she was thrown overboard by the real killer, the cunning and cruel Captain Westwood.

Sade's quiet effort to rebuild her life on the island is threatened when she meets an actual young merman. Unable to speak his language, Sade still longs for the warm companionship he offers, despite the locals' dire legends about merfolk and their dark magic. But her confused feelings for the impossible boy become the least of her problems when Captain Westwood's ship docks at Windwaithe. With nowhere to escape, Sade must trust in the one person who doesn't fear the merfolk. A woman who had dealings with them herself—years ago

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Only Thing You Can Count On Is Change

SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers to Forbidden Sea. If you have not read the book yet, skip to the next entry.


The very word brings shivers to the heart of any author. Even so, nothing could be more necessary to the creation of a good book than some good old fashioned spit and polish. Anyone contemplating being an author better get used to the idea. You’ll never get a book published without extensive revisions, so learn to enjoy them. My editor has helped me improve my book in ways I would never have imagined possible. Most of her suggestions, when I stopped to consider them, were right on target. At first I might be sad about changes to the plot, but after some time and hard work, I can see for myself that these changes only improve my story for the best. Curious to know what in Forbidden Sea was changed? Here are a few examples.

Originally Adrianne’s name was Rhama and her sister Cecily was called Chloelle. When the editor asked me change the names, I chose Adrianne because that is the name of my cousin (spelled Adrienne in real life, but I thought the “a” looked more old-fashioned). Adrienne and her twin sister have been fans of my writing since they were little girls. This was my way of thanking them for their support over the years. Thank goodness Adrienne’s twin sister’s name was too modern to consider or I would have been in a real bind. Because of this last minute change, I still have a hard time remembering what my main character’s name is when I talk about the book sometimes.

Windwaithe Island was originally set in a completely fantastical world complete with its own religions, deities and lands. In order to bring it into the real world of the past, I had to do some in-depth research. Luckily, I’m a librarian with easy excess to many resources of information. I also have a very dear friend named Donna who can research what a dog kennel was like in the late 1800’s in her sleep.

In one early incarnation of the book, Adrianne never made it to the mercity. She decided she didn't want to meet the prince early on and had Jendayi take her back. I like it better the way it is now.

Lord Durran's ancestors were awarded Windwaithe Island after doing a favor for a king. They originally came from the Orkney Islands, which is where most of my research on mermaid legends came from. This information was cut from manuscript in the second round of revisions because it wasn't pertinent to Adrianne's story.

My title for this book changed many times during editing. Some of the titles that did not make it to the final round were: The Mermaid of Windwaithe Island, Between Moonlit Rock and Dark Ocean, and Dark Water. Which one is your favorite?

Forbidden Sea Soundtrack

The creative juices flow better if I have music playing as I write so I will often create soundtracks for my different books. I collect different songs reflecting the mood and theme of certain chapters or characters. For example:

The theme song for the mermaid in Mermaid of Windwaithe Island was Return to Innocence by Enigma. I’d listen to it over and over again to get a feel for what she was like. Listen carefully and you can hear the whales singing.

I also loved to listen to certain songs from The Time Machine soundtrack. (Hated the movie, but loved the music!) The song Eloi was my favorite from the CD. The music is majestic like my mermaid.

Various songs by Hilary Stagg, Gary Stadler, Secret Garden and Celtic Moods often helped me get into the right frame of mind for writing.

Though it is a modern song, Taylor Swift’s Teardrops on My Guitar perfectly describes the complicated relationship between the Adrianne and Denn. I consider it to be their theme song.

Character Sketches

As an author who is also an illustrator, I love drawing my characters as I work on a book. It helps my writing when I'm trying to describe what my characters look like, not to mention it’s a lot of fun. If you are a writer who is not an artist, try finding pictures of people in catalogs that are as close as possible to what you picture in your head. You can refer to them from time to time and it will help to get the creative juices flowing. My characters often change as I write. The sketch of the main character from my Mermaid of Windwaithe Island book started off older then she ended up, which is why she looks a lot older in the picture than she is in the book. My protagonist’s love interest, pretty much stayed the same throughout. The story was originally set in a fantasy world instead of a historical setting so the clothes they are wearing in the sketches are not historically accurate.

(c) 2010 Sheila A. Nielson

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