This book is a journey of discovery. Born in the land of dreams never thought possible, Beyond the Hidden Realm exists because of inspiration and perseverance. Crafted from a short story I wrote for a writing workshop, the tale expanded and evolved. Still, the concept of developing a novel seemed impossible. Besides the sheer immensity of such a project, I was working full-time and raising a family. Sculpting the story into a full-length piece was as much a fantasy as the story itself.
In 2011, I accompanied a wonderful group of writers on a writing retreat in Northern Italy. Led by Deborah McKew, owner of Words in Play, we spent a magical week on the shores of Lago Maggiore. During one of those days, Deb and I hiked to the medieval village of Carmine Superiore. Sitting on the steps of a building built in the 900s, I wrote page after page. Deb and I enjoyed a picnic lunch of local meats and cheeses and discussed the story. It was that day I knew Beyond the Hidden Realm would become a novel.
Over the next two years, I wrote almost every day. Sometimes, just a paragraph or two composed during early morning hours or at lunch time, but I persevered. Deb continued to inspire me, even during times when I doubted my ability to finish the project.
After the novel’s completion, the editing phase presented new challenges. I would tinker, expand chapters, re-craft, but was caught in the perpetual draft stage. Besides Deb’s wonderful editing skills, I once again turned to the writing workshop setting. Joni Cole and the Writer’s Center of White River Junction, Vermont, helped me move past the endless editing loop. Thank you to a wonderful group of artistic and imaginative writers for their feedback and continued inspiration!
I also wish to acknowledge Joan Chandler, Dean Whitlock, and Sally Whitlock for their keen eyes, analytical reading skills, and artistic talent. Joan and I enjoyed many lunch meetings reviewing the novel and ate our way through the editing process. Dean is the author of Sky Carver and Raven, a wonderful fantasy children’s series. His consistency with finding the inconsistent was remarkable. Sally used her incredible talent to create the map of the Mountain Realm. I am still amazed she deciphered my messy notes and produced such a work of art.
Thank you to Jeffrey Zygmont for his publishing talents. Jeffrey is the author of several books, including his latest poetry collection, White Mountain Poems. He created the book’s design elements, including the cover, and without him this book would not have reached print.
Above all else, I wish to thank my family. They are my inspiration for living and supported this wild journey. Over the past five years, they have graciously tolerated my distractions. My husband, Vince, would not complain when I disappeared for hours to write. My children, Kayleigh and Kendra, adapted to “Mom’s writing time” and never made me feel guilty for the time spent away from them.
Lastly, thank you to the characters for evolving into substance. During my writing retreat in Italy, I wrote the following piece called, A Character’s Voice.