Friends – They’re Important

To continue from last week’s idea of friendship and how making friends as an adult is hard, I wanted to talk about, well, friends. I’ve never had a large number of friends, and that’s fine. I’d rather have a small number of close friends than a lot of superficial friends. But I’m sure I’m not the only one who struggles with making friends as an adult. I’ve had a lot of work friends, people I say I’ll keep in touch with after I leave that job, but we rarely do. I know that’s partially me being terrible at staying in communication with people (even my sisters), but also it’s hard to stay connected when your schedule is different than theirs and you each have such separate lives.

There’s two exceptions to that I-suck-at-staying-in-touch-with-friends part of me. I talk to my dear friend and writing buddy of a year and a half daily, but I think that’s just a rare case of us being essentially the same person. And then there’s my BFF, who I’ve spent the last I don’t know how many years texting every day. Some days we literally say good morning and then don’t really text much the rest of the day because I have work and writing and a million other things to do, and she has three kids.

Friendships as adults are weird because we grow up seeing our friends at least 5 days a week, sometimes more if we saw each other on weekends. We grow up getting to spend literal years seeing them so often, and then suddenly school is over.

Now you’re stuck trying to juggle working, existing as a responsible human adult, fitting in your hobbies or pets or spouses, or in my case, making time to write every day, and also every so often getting to see or even just talk to your friends. It’s so different from being essentially forced to spent hours a day with your friends during school, so it’s unsurprising that making friends as an adult is hard. It’s one thing to stay in contact with people you were already friends with in school, like I do with my BFF. That’s so ingrained in my daily routine that if we don’t text each other, it feels wrong.

And I think that’s why it’s so easy to become friends with your coworkers, because you’re forced to spend hours with each other. But then when that time spent together vanishes because you find a new job or they find something else, it becomes difficult to stay in touch for all the reasons mentioned above.

But anyway, friends. The reason I wanted to talk about them, really, is because I think friends are so important. Of course, your family (if they’re not toxic, terrible people obviously) and your SO are important, too, but friends are so necessary beyond those people. There are things my friends understand that even my family and my boyfriend don’t. Like the insanity that is my desire to read 90 books in a year or horses. I need my horse friends to gush over horses with.

My BFF just moved back to Wisconsin a few weeks ago, and it’s been so wonderful to get to actually see her again and to have her within driving distance. Sometimes you just need to see your friends.

And I somehow manage to just only make short friends, so I look like a freaking giant when I stand next to them. Thanks, Dutch genes.

So anyway, how does that relate to my books? Well, when I first wrote book one, many moons ago (like 10+ years), it really had no friendship in it as far as I can remember. But…that draft is a hot mess, a disaster. We don’t talk about it. It will never see the light of day. So now onto the current draft, when I realized people need friends, there’s actually three major friendships: the one between Rowan and Robin, the one between Aurea and Draea from both sides, and the most important one between Aurea and Eliana.

Rowan leans on Robin often. He seeks her out for advice and comfort. Their friendship is forged on the foundation of shared grief. And when human comfort isn’t enough, Rowan turns to his beloved animals: Ateela and Alvaro. I think in Rowan’s case, those animal friends are even more essential to his mental health than even his human ones are. So I guess I should amend the earlier statement and say there are four major friendships, the final one being Rowan and his animals.

Aurea and Draea’s friendship is different in the sense that it began with Draea caring for Aurea and her brother when they were younger. Their friendship is more than just friends. They have something of sisterly bond. Aurea even sometimes considers Draea like a mother figure. They depend on one another, and when Aurea has to go on her mission, they both struggle with being away from each other, Draea in particular.

When I first wrote about Aurea questioning her beliefs (not a spoiler since it’s mentioned in the blurb in the “Projects” page 😉) it all stemmed from her relationship with Rowan. Now, while that was all fine, I wanted there to be more than just her changing for a boy. We’ve all seen that before. Eli was already a character by then, and someone Aurea was superficially friends with. So I had all the groundwork there. I just needed to solidify that friendship, and I think Aurea’s arc is much stronger for it, because now her change doesn’t stem from just Rowan. In fact, it starts with Eli when she realizes humans really aren’t all that different from her. I really wanted Aurea’s change to come from more than just a boy, and I hope that worked the way I intended.


I really love all the friendships in this book. I think friendship and its importance shows up in two and three, as well, in different ways. So, anyway, now that I’m done rambling about friends and their importance and friendships in book one, here’s a couple of excerpts showing the three POV characters and their friends.

It was pretty hard to pick for Draea and Aurea, since they don’t actually get to see one another from chapter one through forty-five, so most of their friendship details come from background details and letters Aurea writes to Draea. I was going to show something from Draea’s POV, but instead here’s a small excerpt from when Aurea first gets settled in her new room in Orien’s Haven.

From Chapter 3

But even more important than the concealer was the note and the present Draea had given her before she left. If she’d lost them, she would’ve been devastated. She opened the box to reveal a thin silver chain with a circular pendant hanging at the middle. Etched into the pendant were three symbols: A halfmoon curved along the right side and along the left, the symbol for Enos, the silhouette of his curved horns, their tips meeting the tip of the moon. Between the two curves of the horns and the moon hung a drop of blood. The symbols of the gods they’d come from. Kalasandria for Aurea, and Verox and Enos for Draea.

Aurea touched the little pendant, a small smile playing on their lips. Draea had one just like it, though neither could wear them openly. Aurea tucked the box in with the tubes of concealer, unfolding the note.

In case you ever get lonely or miss me. Know I’m always here. I believe in you, my sweet Auri. I love you.

Dray

And Another From Chapter 10

She found a tall, sweeping tree overlooking the lake, one with white flowers covering its entirety. She had no idea what it was, what kind of fruit it grew, but she settled herself beneath it and lay flat on her back, gazing up at the clusters of white. She smiled at the surge of memories.

Many warm nights, after training, she and Draea would go into their backyard, small as it was, and lay below the tree that took up a majority of the space. They’d stare up through the leaves at the darkening sky, watching the pink-tinged clouds float by, arms pressed together as they lay side by side. Sometimes they’d talk about their days, sometimes they’d lie together in silence. On more than out occasion, they’d taken turns consoling one another, arms wrapped around the other as she cried. Most recently, she’d been the one holding Draea, promising her she’d be back, that she’d be fine.

Tears prickled behind her eyes. Gods, how she missed Draea. It was like a piece of her was missing. She lay there on the uneven ground for a long time, watching the clouds through the breaks between the flowers, listening to a bee buzzing near her head. Another one moved above her, going from flower to flower lazily. The wind rustled the flowers, sending a few stray petals floating down toward Aurea. It was peaceful there, as she’d suspected. And yet her stomach held itself in a tight knot.


For Rowan and Robin I’m just going with the introduction of Robin, which is a moment where Rowan gives her a birthday present.

From Chapter 4

After dropping off the groceries with Samina, the head of the kitchen, he found Robin cleaning the library. Her son, Oliver, was strapped to her chest with a wrap wrapping over her shoulders, between her moth-like wings, and around her middle. Her dark grey skin and her short black hair had the same bluish quality when the sun hit it.

“Dahlia and Carolin are joining us for lunch, if that’s okay,” Rowan said, holding out his hands in an offer to take Oliver.

Robin loosened the wrap and pulled out the six-month-old boy, handing him to Rowan with a grateful smile. “Thanks. He’s getting heavy.” She rolled her shoulders. “That’s fine with me. Is it okay if Emilie comes, too? I ran into her a few minutes ago and might have invited her.”

“Of course. The more the merrier.” Emilie Kiman was one of his horse trainers, a young Mersian who Robin had become good friends with after she’d moved into the house not long before Oliver was born. He set Oliver on his hip and dug in his pocket with his free hand. “Here. I know it’s early, but happy birthday.” He held out the little box.

Robin scowled. “Rowan! You don’t have to get me anything. You do enough just letting us live here.”

“Nonsense. I already bought it. Take it.” He pushed it into her hands.

She shot him a dirty look before opening the box. “Oh, Row. Thank you.” Tears brimmed her bright green eyes. “It made me think of Aims when I saw it. It’s why I liked it so much.” She moved closer and hugged him tightly.

He wasn’t sure why he hadn’t made the connection. Aimery had been a Kezerite, so of course the lightning-like pattern had made her think of him. He wished, as he always did when she was reminded of her dead husband, he could take away her pain. Rowan gave her a squeeze with his free arm. “Sorry I made you cry.”

Robin laughed, wiping at her eyes. “No, no. Thank you, really. It’s beautiful. I love it.”


For Aurea and Eli, there’s a moment where Aurea misses Draea greatly and the two women bond over missing their friends.

From Chapter 10

“Hey, Lena. I thought that was you.”

Aurea tilted her head back to see Eliana walking over. “Oh, hey.” Eliana’s smile made her feel better somehow.

“Mind if I join you?”

“Not at all.”

Eliana lowered herself to the ground, stretching out beside Aurea. Her arm touched Aurea’s, Eliana’s foot bumping hers. The faint scent of Jasmine washed over Aurea, settling her and filling her with a quiet peace.

Aurea swallowed the lump rising in her throat at how familiar this felt.

“What are you doing over here?” Eliana asked.

“Just watching the clouds.”

“The flowers are kind of in the way, though.”

“Well, yeah. But I like them better anyway. They’re pretty.” And they reminded her of the little while flowers that grew along the fence in their yard at home.

“Are you okay?” Eliana tilted her head to look at Aurea. “You seem sad.”

“I miss home. And my best friend. I thought it would be easier, moving here.” Aurea met the hazel eyes. “You know?”

Eliana smiled sympathetically. “I understand missing a best friend.”

Aurea had all but forgotten that Eliana’s best friend had moved away. “How long ago did she move?”

“Last summer. She went north.” A sadness flickered across her face, smile faltering.

“Why did she leave?” Would Eliana get to see her again? Or was her friend lost to her? An ache bloomed at the idea of never seeing Draea again. At least Aurea knew she’d get to be with her again.

“She followed a girl, someone she loved.” Eliana sighed, eyes turning skyward. “I don’t blame her. If Warren asked me to leave with him, I would.”

Aurea wouldn’t leave Draea. Not permanently. Not for anyone.

“Have you ever been in love?” Eliana asked after a moment.

“A few times.” And each had ended in heartbreak. She’d fallen hard and fast every time. But she’d never have considered moving away from The Isles permanently, for any of them. Draea, though, she knew, would’ve left with Edur. She’d been considering it, considering moving to the mainland when he’d been killed in that hunting accident.

Guilt slithered into her heart at the memory of the relief that’d filled her. At the relief of knowing Draea wouldn’t leave her. But gods, had she felt awful for feeling that way. Draea had been grieving her son, her husband, and all Aurea could think was how grateful she was that Draea wouldn’t be abandoning her. It still made her sick to think of her own selfishness.

“So you understand, too, then, the lengths you’d go to, to stay with them.”

“Yeah.” But she didn’t. And maybe she never would understand what it was like to love someone so deeply, so thoroughly, that she’d be willing to leave The Isles, willing to leave Draea for him. Aurea turned her head to look at Eliana, a fondness for the other woman filling her as she inhaled another lungful of the faint Jasmine smell. She smiled when Eliana grasped her hand, grateful for the woman’s presence, for her understanding.

“It’s okay to be sad and miss your friend. You don’t have to pretend with me.” Eliana squeezed lightly. “We can be sad together.”

Aurea laughed. “Sounds great.” It was nice to have someone to talk to, someone she felt comfortable with, someone she could spend time with without worrying about pretending to be okay with it.

“What brought you to the orchard? I’ve never seen you here.”

“It looked quiet. I just wanted to be alone for a bit.” Aurea turned her gaze to the flowers again. “Do you come here much?”

“I work here on and off. I switch between the green houses and here depending on where I’m needed.”

Aurea didn’t know how Eliana had enough time for everything she did. “So you work here and at the green houses, The Tea Room, and you run your market stall?”

Eliana grinned. “And sometimes I help Warren’s father at the butchers.”

Aurea laughed again. “How do you have time for yourself?”

Eliana’s smile faded. “I like to keep busy. Keeps me from thinking too much.”

They were silent for a while, Aurea waiting to see if Eliana would elaborate. But it seemed like Eliana wasn’t ready to explain. Aurea’s eyes found the little white flowers, the sun peeking through the clouds beyond and sneaking through the petals to warm her face. “What kind of tree is this?”

“A pear tree.”

“What other kinds of fruit grow here?” She wondered what pears tasted like. Were they sweet or tart? Or bitter? She had no frame of reference. She doubted anything she’d ever eaten compared to the fruits growing in the orchard.

“Apples, plums, and cherries grow on the trees. But we also have a couple rows of berry bushes.”

Aurea lifted herself slightly to look behind her. All the trees were covered in flowers of white or varying shades of pink. It was beautiful here, peaceful. Not the same peacefulness she felt at home, laying in the backyard, listening to the sounds of the ocean, but as she settled herself back beside Eliana, she felt the homesickness ebbing. The wind rustled the flowers of the pear tree, sending ripples across the lake down below.


And because Rowan and I are both crazy horse girls, I have to include Rowan and Alvaro from about halfway through the book, so I’m cutting it a bit short due to spoilers.

From Chapter 38

When Rowan reached the stable, he grabbed the lantern hanging outside the side door and brought it into the dark building. The familiar sound of soft, sleepy nickers came from the stalls nearby as he shut the door behind him. He inhaled the scent of hay and horses, making his way to Alvaro’s stall. Ateela followed, pausing every now and then to sniff at the floor.

Alvaro stuck his head over the stall door when Rowan neared, greeting him with a whicker. Other heads poked out of nearby stalls, curious who was interrupting their sleep.

“Hey, buddy,” Rowan said, hanging the lantern on the wall beside the stall. He slipped inside and quickly shutting the door again before Ateela could get in. “Sorry to wake you.”

Alvaro nosed at his pockets, blowing through his nostrils.

“Ah, you don’t care that I’m here. You just want these, don’t you?” Rowan smiled, digging a few treats out.

Alvaro’s soft lips brushed against his palm as he took them from Rowan’s hand.

Rowan brushed aside the stallion’s forelock and rubbed his forehead. He already felt much calmer than he had earlier, surrounded by the familiar, comfortable smell of the horses, the sounds of hooves moving over hay-covered floors. He pressed his forehead against Alvaro’s, closing his eyes.

Ateela pawed at the stall door, whining.

When Alvaro had eaten the treats, Rowan moved back over to the stall door. He opened it enough to let Ateela in, then lowered himself onto the floor, leaning against the wall. “Mind if I stay for a bit?”

And Alvaro, as if sensing Rowan needed it, lay down and draped his head over Rowan’s lap. Ateela lay down on his other side, pressing his warm body against Rowan’s leg.

Tears filled his eyes as Rowan ran his hands over the stallion’s face.


What I wrote over the past week

“Typheus the Wind Scythe” –  A myth about how a weapon of Kezerien’s, a wind scythe, became a god-blessed weapon.

I finished up “The Journals of Silsia.” And you’ll be shocked to hear this, it came in at just over fifteen pages, because what even is short?

A for funsies scene from Ien’s POV that I can’t explain due to spoilers for book two.

Some background stuff about Droken to get to know him better and flesh him out more before I start revising book two.

“The Heart of Darkness” (no relation to Heart of Darkness the book hahaha) – A myth about a god-blessed lantern of Borea’s that allows the holder to live even beyond the moment they should have died while they seek their vengeance.

What I’m reading right now

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories by Kelly Barnhill

My Horseback Riding Instructor is Leaving, and I’m Sad

As you may — or may not — know, I love horses. I might have mentioned it a few times here and there. It might say so in my “About me” page. I’m definitely not shy about my love of horses and have fully accepted my crazy-horse-girl self. It also won’t be surprising to anyone who reads book one. Rowan is 100% also a crazy horse girl, according to my boyfriend. Which, to be fair, he kind of is. He does love horses and talks to them – kind of like me… Whoops? I have a feeling horses will appear in most of my writing in some capacity. As my boyfriend told me recently, “If I were a crazy horse girl, I’d be able to tell you’re a crazy horse girl” based on how I write about them. (Am I about to use this as an excuse to share a bunch of horse pictures? Absolutely)

I started riding when I was seven, but I realized after I left for college that I didn’t really know much beyond how to stay on the horse. Which, to be fair, is an important skill to have. I might be exaggerating a bit, but that’s how I felt. And that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the many years I spent riding where I did, because I do. So much.

I got to ride so many different horses. I got to spend ten years riding Sinbad, the best horse ever, who I still miss and forever wish I could have owned. He might have tossed me an awful lot, but I learned that was because of me. If I was just brave and unafraid of those jumps, he’d sail right over. Unfortunately, I’m still scared of jumping because of all the times I fell off. Thanks, Sinbad. I love you anyway.

But anyway, when I got to college, I realized I knew a lot less than I thought I did. And there, I once again got to ride a wide variety of horses, and I had a great time, and I made wonderful riding friends and explored trails and got to follow a 5k on horseback, which was amazing. I galloped through a field in St. Andrews, Scotland, and rode past cows and through streets where we nearly ran into a little old lady. And I did a three-hour trail ride in Ireland. After I left college, though, I still felt like I didn’t know much.

Because horses and lessons are expensive, I ended up just not riding for five years after I moved in with my boyfriend. But then two years ago I decided if I ever wanted to buy a horse (which I do, desperately) I’d better get back into lessons and actually learn how the heck to really ride. I don’t want to go into horse ownership (eventually, hopefully in the next few years) blind. Both for myself and for any potential horse I own.

And I found the most wonderful and positive and lovely person to give me lessons. We ended up taking a break because she was gone for the winter and then my mom was sick and all of that happened. But last year on my birthday I finally got back into actual regular weekly lessons. Boy was that huge five-year gap a mistake. I didn’t realize how much I needed horses until I started riding again. I didn’t understand how much I missed it until I got back on a horse. And I will never go years without again if I can help it.

I’ve learned so much from my trainer in the last year and a half. I realized what my flaws are, what I need to work on, and while I definitely still struggle not to make the mistakes, at least I know about them now, I feel like I’ve gotten much better than I was when I started riding again two years ago.

What I didn’t expect when I started taking lessons again was to become friends with my trainer. And of course I knew we were friends and I knew I liked her because she’s such a great, fun person, but I didn’t realize how much I’d come to care about her until she told me last month she was leaving.

I’ve left two barns. I’ve taken lessons from multiple lovely people and when I left or they left, it was fine. But somehow this is different. Somehow this time I’m really sad. When she told me she was moving out of state, I was shocked to find myself getting all teary-eyed and emotional. After repeatedly saying “This sucks” because I didn’t really know how else to express myself, we hugged and I actually cried. I didn’t know what would happen when we eventually parted ways – if we ever did – nor did I know how it would happen, but I didn’t ever expect it would involve me basically weeping in my car before driving home.

Have you ever been so sad that you’re just useless? Yeah, that’s how I felt that day after I got home. I know I was supposed to write. I don’t think I did. Or maybe I did and ended up writing some emotional scene about Rowan. That sounds exactly like something I’d do if I was sad haha. Anyway, the point is that making friends as an adult is weird and stupid and hard and then you make one, and when they unexpectedly have to move, it sucks hard.

I think the deep sadness came from more than just a friend leaving, though. I think it came from a combination of knowing a friend was moving away and the unexpectedness of the news when I had, apparently, expected our partnership to go on for much longer. I fully expected to go horse shopping with her helping me and then continuing lessons once I got said horse, and obviously that won’t be a thing. And I think I’m also sad about that. I feel less…certain, I guess, about horse-buying. Not that I have the money for it right now anyway, and it probably won’t happen for a couple more years. But I felt like once I got a horse, I had someone to rely on if I needed help, and now that person is leaving, and I’m not sure where to go next.

Wednesday was my last lesson with her, and I’m so bummed about it. I’m happy I get to keep riding at the barn, but it’ll be weird not getting to see her or hear her chipper voice or listen to her telling the horses, “It’s so hard to be a you.”


What I wrote over the last week

Finished up the untitled story about a girl who one day she gets an unexpected phone call from her dead mom.

“The Apex Predator” — a myth about Nora-Vel’s objects, which are all body parts of her favorite creature.

A scene that will probably take place in some capacity in The Enorians book three, during which Ien tells his friends and family they need Vivian’s help.

“The Journals of Silsia” — a story about one of the enorians who came from Enoralori through the portal written in journal entries.

As always, check out my Instagram for excerpts from said stories.

What I’m reading right now

A Torch in the Night by Sabaa Tahir

Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories by Kelly Barnhill

Grief and Writing and My Mom

I wasn’t planning on writing this for a few more weeks, but then I started writing a story yesterday that came from a dream, and it seemed to better fit today. So, let’s start with that dream: Last May, my mom died of cancer. Then, sometime between last October and this month (I can’t remember exactly when it occurred) I had a dream that when I was coming out of the barn where I ride horses, I got a phone call from an unavailable number. When I answered, my mom was on the other end, and I told her, “But this is impossible. You’re dead.” She agreed and then carried on as if everything was normal. The moment I woke up, I knew I wanted to write a fictionalized version of that. And yesterday, after months (possibly even a year) of sitting on it, I finally started it. Naturally, it brought up some feelings, and I made myself tear up for the first time while writing. So that was…fun?

And yes, I am going to absolutely post a bunch of pictures of my mom, because she was the best. I know a lot of people don’t want to be like their parents, but if someone told me I was like my mom, I’d be nothing but thrilled and honored they thought so.

When my mom was still alive, I called her pretty regularly after work or after riding to just say hi, and we’d talk on my drive home. And sometimes she’d call me around the time I was usually done working to do the same.

There were numerous instances after she was gone where I’d get into my car and get this almost instinctual thought – I don’t want to call it a thought, because it wasn’t a thought. It was more like an automatic thing I was supposed to do because I’d done it so often, but thought will work, I suppose – to call her. That was followed by a near immediate reminder that I couldn’t. And that sucked. So. Hard. It was like a nice little punch to the gut. Like having the rug swept out from under me. Thankfully that doesn’t really happen much anymore.

When we first found out she was dying of cancer, I asked my boyfriend how I was supposed to function as a normal person after she was gone. It’s crazy how we do, actually, eventually, continue to just function after someone we love dies. How we get used to a new normal without them. How we can even be happy without them in our lives, as impossible as that seems. Or, at least, I learned to function like a normal person. I’m sure not everyone is able to do that.

And naturally I think about her daily whether it’s just from seeing her pictures on my desk or when she comes up in conversation, but generally there’s not really sadness associated with those thoughts. Like of course I wish she was still here, and I miss her. She was never anything but loving and supportive. But it’s normally surprisingly easy to just continue life without being sad.

But there are moments where her being gone sucks extra hard. Big moments where I want to call her and tell her exciting things have happened, and I can’t, and I hate it. Last year, after she was already gone, I managed to finish a draft of book one of the Enorians Saga. This year, I not only finished writing book two in five months and then revising book one in another three. Neither of which I ever thought I could ever manage so quickly. And then I got my MFA in writing, and my professor had nothing but good things to say about my thesis.

And it was so hard not to be able to call her about all of that. Especially because I feel like she started all of this when she picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and read it to me when I was a kid. I’ve probably said this many times, but I honestly believe that I wouldn’t love reading and writing and fantasy, I wouldn’t be the book crazy person I am, if she hadn’t done that for me, because before Harry Potter, I didn’t like reading. I want to share it all with her and go, “Look. You did this. This is because of you. And I can never thank you enough.”

I’m sure there will be many more moments in the future when I have similar feelings. But thankfully I do have a bunch of other wonderful supportive people in my life that I can tell all the exciting things to. But it would still be pretty cool if cancer wasn’t such a bitch. To everyone who has lost someone to cancer, I feel your pain, and I hope you can find some joy in the world beyond their passing and remember only good and happy moments.

Now, let’s end with a little excerpt from that story, which is currently untitled, because titles are hard. I didn’t use much from my own life in this beyond the whole mom died bit. But this is one moment, the moment I mentioned above when getting in the car, that I did pull from my own experiences. It wasn’t quite as dramatic for me, but I wanted to try to illustrate just how much it sucks:

“As she slumped down into the front seat of her car, Phoebe had a momentary instinctual desire to call her mom. It lasted only a second before the realization hit. Before she remembered that she couldn’t, because her mom was dead. Her heart plummeted into her stomach. Her stomach dropped down into her pelvis somewhere and vanished. All her insides had been sucked out of her, leaving her with an empty, hollow feeling. Her throat burned along with her eyes, and her cheeks grew warm as she felt the tears pooling.

She’d thought she was done with this now. It’d been over a year since her mom died. She’d had many moments like this over the first few months after her death. Moments that left her trembling and crying. Moments that left her breathless with unexpected grief.”


What I wrote over the last week (since 11/5 in this case):

“The Folly of Blissfruit” – A myth about an enorian fruit (blissfruit) that causes crazy amazing highs and why enorians shouldn’t eat it. 

“The First Aesan” – A myth about Aesa’s decision to take children to her realm upon their death rather than sending them to the Aether.

“Aesa’s Ring of Conception” – A myth about a Velite woman who desperately wants children but can’t have them and Aesa’s special ring that allows conception no matter the circumstances.

Children of Oher Chapter One: The Wedding – This one started out as a short story idea that, entirely unsurprisingly, has grown into novella length. Kora Mercer gets kidnapped by the Children of Oher and is forced to marry one of their young men because the group hasn’t had a female child born in years, so they have to resort to pulling women in from outside their walls. But when she realizes her new husband, Asher Webb, is in love with his best friend and wants as little to do with all this marriage business as her, she has to decide whether to trust him in hopes they might escape their prison together.

Untitled story about someone struggling through a busy lunch shift at a restaurant.

Untitled story about a girl who one day she gets an unexpected phone call from her dead mom.

More things written from Rowan’s POV that weren’t originally written in Rowan’s POV, just for funsies.

To see little excerpts from all the things, go check out my Instagram.

What I’m reading this week:

Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories by Kelly Barnhill

I also just finished Blackbird Broken by Keri Arthur yesterday and am impatiently awaiting the release of book three, Blackbird Crowned.

National Novel Writing Month & Meet the Gods

For those who don’t know, every November is National Novel Writing Month for us crazy writers. The goal is to write 50,000 words in thirty days. I’ll be honest, I’ve never managed to successfully do it. At least not during November. Though, I suppose last year technically counted as successful, since I finished enorians book one, even though I didn’t hit 50,000 words. I did write over 50,000 words in both April and May, but I did that while being off work because of COVID. So does that really count? (I guess it does a little. It was just a lot easier haha)

Since I’m not working on a book at the moment, my plan is to write a combination of short stories and more enorian myths so that maybe next year I can start sending out some stories. I’m updating my Instagram daily with little excerpts from what I worked on that day as well as brief explanations, so check that out if you’re interested to see what exactly I’m working on.

Speaking of enorian myths, let’s meet the gods! And what better way to meet them than for me to share the creation myth? But first, here’s a list of each god and what they represent:

Aesa – The Mother God – Goddess of Life, Air, and Childbirth

Loros – God of Day, Light, Crafting, and Money

Nora-Vel – Goddess of Nature, Medicine, and Wild Animals

Invero – God of the Sea and Weather

Verox – God of Night, Darkness, and Future Sight

Merse – Goddess of Love, Mercy, Obsession, Desire, Music, and Sunrise

Goriel – God of the Harvest, Agriculture, and the Homestead

Aethos – Goddess of Death, Disease, Decay, and the Cycle of Life

Borea – God of Hatred, Insanity, Revenge, and Sunset

Enos – God of War, Battle Strategy, Heat, and Fire

Kalasandria – Goddess of Secrecy and Deception

Trosk – God of Art, Markings, and Beautiful Deaths

Kezerien – God of Destruction and Natural Disasters

Zura – Goddess of Knowledge, Time, and Future Sight

Serth – God of Misfortune

The Creation of the Gods

In the beginning, Aesa, the first of the gods, was alone. She did not know where she had come from or how she had come to be on this plane with only the blue sky and sun, the barren land, the empty oceans, and the starry night for company. But from somewhere deep within her, she understood that she had the ability to create life.

And so, with her many sets of feathered wings, she flew as high into the sky as she could and there, she pulled a ray from the sun. She cradled it carefully in her hands, the warmth filling her with joy and excitement. When she landed on the dirt again, she blew gently on the glowing ray, sending it floating away from her. The sunray expanded until it took up nearly all her vision, and then it slowly took the form of a man, a man made of pure light. And so Aesa breathed life into Loros, the first of her children.

Next, she plucked one of her own many white feathers, for she knew Loros could not be her only companion. She blew on the feather, and it twirled into the sky. Aesa followed it with her sight until she had to squint against the brightness of the sun. When it came into view again, the feather had become a small, white bird, which fluttered down onto her outstretched hand. She smiled, stroking its head with her fingers before setting it down on the dirt. From there, the bird grew into a large, white beast with the front legs and head of a snarling feline, antlers sprouting from its head, and the back half of a slender deer with cloven hooves. It was equally beautiful and frightening. And so Aesa breathed life into Nora-Vel, her first and only daughter.

While Loros and Nora-Vel got acquainted, Aesa flew to the vast oceans. She swooped down and scooped up two handfuls of water, cupping them in her palms. Bringing the salty sea back to land with her, she blew on it, sending ripples over the small pool in her hands. And from that water, sprang Invero, fully formed and covered in scales the blue-green color of the ocean with fin-like wings. He dove back into the waters that called to him. And so Aesa breathed life into Invero, the child she would rarely see, for he stayed beneath the waves from which he had been made.

As she stared at the other half of the world, the dark, starry half, Aesa’s loneliness had not quite faded. She flew back up, high into the sky, as she had earlier. But this time, she plucked a star from the inky blackness. And when she brought it back down with her, Loros and Nora-Vel came to investigate. They watched their mother blow on the star cradled in her hand. It floated away from them, expanding as it went, until the darkness blotted out their vision. It formed slowly into something like the shape of a person, filled with swirling galaxies and stars. They swept forward to greet their siblings and mother. And so Aesa breathed life into Verox, her youngest child, the dark star.

Aesa wanted to create more life, a people who could keep the gods strong with their worship. But first they needed a place to live, and so the next day, the five gods set to work creating a habitable world.

Nora-Vel walked around the world, passing from the bright half into the dark and back and everywhere she went, entire forests sprouted up behind her. Grass grew beneath her clawed feet. Flowers sprang up from her hooves. When she flicked her long tail, birds burst into being, and when she rubbed her antlers on the bark of trees, tiny mice and rabbits and other such small animals tumbled to life.

Invero, deep in the oceans, had already begun his work, creating all sorts of sea creatures large and small and underwater landscapes to rival those of his sister’s in beauty. But even with the sea creatures for company, Invero felt a strange longing for others like him. And so he left his oceans to walk the land in search of his siblings, creating rivers in his wake. When he paused, water puddled around him, deep and wide, forming ponds, then lakes.

Loros and Verox went in search of building materials to create forms in which to hold their light and darkness. In the middle of the world, they found mountains. They took rock and they took the trees their sister had created, and they went to the oceans to collect sand from the beaches, and Loros built himself a forge. There, he crafted beautiful, white armor to hold his light in the form of a man. And he created a set for his sibling, as well, out of glass so all could see the star-strewn darkness swirling within.

Aesa was glad to see Invero join them again, and she marveled at the beauty of the casings Loros had created for himself and Verox and praised Nora-Vel for her exceptionally lovely forests. And she smiled, feeling joy and contentment surrounded by her children.

Then Loros fell in love with Nora-Vel, and in that fresh, new feeling of love, something burst from his chest. She was made up of pale yellows and oranges and pinks, her long hair shimmering with the colors of sunrise. And so Merse was born, and she was more beautiful than anything Aesa had seen before. 

It did not take long for a brother to be born to Merse. From the union of Loros and Nora-Vel came a being with the body of a furred, four-legged beast with cloven hooves and the torso of a man, though this, too, was covered in a dusting of fur and had an extra set of arms. He immediately set to creating the fields the enorians would need to grow food. And so Goriel was born, the strongest among them. 

With the world as prepared as Aesa thought it could be, she gathered twigs and plucked feathers from her wings and tied them all together with strands of her hair. And when she had formed them into the shapes of people, she pressed a kiss to each and tossed them into the air, where they floated away, turning into the first mortals, beings with feathered wings and horns like their creator, each equally beautiful. And they walked together into Nora-Vel’s forests to create shelters and hunt for food while Goriel readied their fields for them. And so Aesa created the first enorians.

And all was well. The newly created enorians worshipped their gods and produced children who worshipped their gods. Aesa took to the sky, and with the help of her first enorians, she added more life to the vast blue space. Her breath created pillowy, white clouds and the beating of her wings and the wings of the first enorian swept the wind into being.

But then Nora-Vel had another child, this one a dark being with gaunt features, sickly skin stretching over sharp bones. When one of Nora-Vel’s creatures died, as all beings do, the child took it into her lap, cradling it to her, stroking it tenderly. And so Aethos was born and was tasked with caring for the dead.

Loros knew this could not be his child. For he saw how bright and glorious and strong his son was. And this dark daughter, she could not have come from him. He accused Verox of coupling with Nora-Vel behind his back. Verox could not deny their betrayal, for who else could have created such a child? And Verox fled, not wanting to fight their brother.

Loros chased Verox around the world, and the brightness and darkness mixed as they flew, creating dawn and day and twilight and night. Loros chased his sibling for many days and nights, so many that their flight caused the flowers to bloom and leaves to fall and a coldness to envelope the world from the sheer force of their chase. When Loros finally caught the younger god, the cold had faded, and flowers had begun to sprout again. The two fought over Nora-Vel, and though neither had a true body, Loros sliced open his sibling, sending blood splattering down into the volcano and into the shadows of the mountain over which they raged.

A man burst from the blood bubbling in the lava, fully formed and armored, full of rage from the feelings coursing through Verox, with huge, sweeping horns and large, strong wings to take him wherever the fighting may be. And so Enos was born, ready for battle.

Another crawled slowly out of the red pool in the shadows of the mountain, the blood changing colors as it formed her body, turning a strange greenish blue color for a moment, as if the color had inverted. She slunk toward the fighting gods, crouched low, creeping up behind her brother, ready to strike. And in the shadow of the hulking Enos, she seemed to vanish, wrapped in shadows. And so Kalasandria was born, the blood forever dripping from her wings.

Nora-Vel came to where the siblings fought and shouted at them that she was not a prize to be won and she could be with whomever she pleased. She made them stop their foolish fight sparked of jealousy, and Aesa was grateful, for she did not wish for such discord amongst her children.

But while Nora-Vel helped Verox clean and heal their wounds and Verox greeted their new children, Loros struggled with his feelings of betrayal. How could his sibling do this to him? His beloved sibling for whom he had created that glorious armor? And in those bitter feelings of anger, of hatred, of betrayal, his light started to dim. Gone was the blinding brightness created by the sunray from which he had come, instead his inner light turned to warm oranges and reds, deep, dull yellows and pinks. Not unlike the colors of his first child, Merse. And as he cried tears of rage, from those tears came another child. She rose to her full height, dark and withered in appearance, the top half of her body wrapped in armor and a spiked cage surrounding her head. The swirling black mist blocking the rest of her body from view seemed to leach all the light from her surroundings. And so Borea was born.

Aesa worried things had gone wrong, but after the creation of Borea, Loros seemed to have calmed, his light coming back to full brightness again. And so they continued perfecting their world for the enorian mortals who worshipped them.

The animals came to Nora-Vel, asking her to make them beautiful, for most were the brown of tree bark or the white of her tail hairs. And so she asked Aesa to pull some blue from the sky, and asked Loros to give her some of his light, and asked Verox to offer a bit of the purple hidden in their inky darkness, and asked Invero for some green scales, and asked Merse and Borea for their red and orange and pink feathers, and she took some of her own, white hairs. From all the things her siblings and children had given her, she formed a being of swirling color to paint the animals and the leaves of the trees and flowers. And so Trosk was born, and they set immediately to work to create more beauty in the world.

While everyone else was busy helping with the forming of Trosk, Kalasandria and Enos had a violent, fiery, sparking romance, and when their son came into being, the clouds burst open with a downpour of rain. Thunder cracked and light zigzagging across the sky and striking Nora-Vel’s precious trees, setting them ablaze. Fire leapt across his flesh, the ground spider-webbing beneath him. And so Kezerien was born, his skin crackling with lightning, sparking out at anyone who came near.

When the storm had settled, the enorians, now trailed by multiple children, came to Aesa to ask her why the days had stopped turning to night, for when Loros and Verox stopped their chase, the world had settled back to its original state, half light, half dark. They missed the beauty of the sunrises and sunsets, and they feared the dark half of the world, where they believed dangers lurked, and they could not track time without the coming of night and day, as they had become accustomed.

And so Aesa asked her four children to create a new being who could ensure the passage of time. They assembled the materials, going to the mountains to mine metals and to the beach to get more sand to create glass. And while Loros began to craft their newest companion, the rest of the gods gathered around to wait. When he finished, she stood before them, made of glass and wrapped in an exoskeleton of metal, but she was not yet finished. Loros gave her a bit of his light, for the day, and knowledge of crafting. Verox spilled forth their darkness, for the night, and touched her brow to bestow their future sight. Merse pressed a kiss to her cheek, bestowing on her the colors of sunrise and with those, her love. And with Borea’s sunset offering seeped in the blackness, her hatred. Invero poured water into her, giving her all she would ever need to know of the oceans and its contents. Nora-Vel blessed her with the understanding of nature and medicine, the life cycles of plants and animals. And Goriel gave her knowledge of the harvest and all that went along with growing and feeding the mortals. Enos gave her appreciation of battles and war. And Kalasandria made her understand the importance of secrecy and gave her the ability to see into the past. Kezerien taught her about the storms and destruction and how vital they could be to life. And Trosk painted her, lining her with blue and filling her empty eyes with the same, the color of the flowers and the birds and the sky just before night fell, and with their careful strokes they taught her the beauty of life and art. Aethos brought her the body of a lost creature, and when she touched first the beast and then the face of the frozen being before her, she bestowed unto her the importance of death and its necessity to life. Finally, Aesa stepped forward, and blew gently into her face, instilling in her the knowledge of birth and life. Eyes flickered open and deep within her core, a blue light pulsed slowly. And so, with the help and knowledge of all the gods, Aesa breathed life into Zura and tasked her to ensure time and all its events moved as it should.

With day and night circling the world, with the seasons changing as the days passed, the gods settled into their new lives, reveling in the worship of their mortals. But one mortal, the youngest son of the two first enorians, did not worship as he should. He struggled through his life, forgetting offerings and prayers, letting days go by without a thought to the gods. He was too busy to remember days of celebration, despite his parents’ insistence the gods had created them and deserved his time and energy. Misfortune befell him again and again. His crops failed to grow. The animals he hunted fled before he caught them. His boat capsized as he tried to fish, turned over in a storm. His fields flooded. His cattle died of disease. He did not find love, like his siblings did when Aesa created more enorians. He could not understand what had gone wrong.

Upon his death, he came to the gods, begging them for understanding. They stood above him, pointing fingers and judging him on the things he had failed to do. If only he had worshipped and given offerings and sacrifices as his parents and siblings, they told him. All the misfortune befalling him had been his own fault, his foolishness. And from the shadow created by the youngest son from the light of the gods, a new creature pulled himself from the grass. He crouched on six limbs, four spindly arms and two sturdy, taloned legs. He slunk away to the forest and watched them, stroking his long fingers over the coarse, grass-like fur of his shoulder. And then he crept away, out of sight, away from these most glorious and powerful beings, glowering at them from the shadows. And so Serth was born, the last of the gods.

It was not long before the gods decided they, too, wanted their own people as Aesa had created, for they thought it wasn’t fair that the enorians only looked like her. With her help, they created numerous races, one for nearly every god.

Aesa gave her people her soft, feathered wings, and her kind and gentle nature and tasked them to bring forth the life she sent. She called them Aesa’s Chosen.

Loros gave his people the knowledge to expertly craft and the ability to bring brightness to the dark with their shining markings, and he made their wings strong and powerful so they could fly close to his light. He called them his Light Bringers.

Nora-Vel gave her people the gift of medicine and the ability to hunt with extreme precision and modeled them after the creatures she had created, instilling in them her love of nature. She called them Velites.

Invero gave his people the ability to breathe underwater and gave them scales and fin-like wings to move around swift and efficiently beneath the waves, ensuring they could join him in the ocean at any time. He called them the Deep Ones.

Verox gave their people the ability to see in the dark, during their time, and some, they blessed them with the skill to read the fate and future in the stars. They called them Veroxians.

Merse gave her people her passion, the power to create feelings of lust or devotion within others, and she blessed them with stunning beauty and a great affinity for music. She called them her Cherished Mersians.

Goriel gave his people the strength to work the fields and the ability to grow plants, particularly food, with much greater success than other races, and he blessed them to take his form, covering them in fur and giving them hooves. He called them his Herdsmen.

Aethos, already too busy caring for those who had passed beyond this realm, did not create a race, for all people became hers once they joined her in the Aether.

Enos gave his people his love of battle and blessed them to be excellent leaders, debaters, and rousing orators, and he gave them scales and ensured they loved the heat as much as him. He called them his War Bringers.

Kalasandria gave her people her sneaking skills, creating small, lithe beings capable of blending into shadows and being as quiet and secretive as her, and blessing them with the ability to read people well and judge character; some could even hear whispers of the past. She called them her Sandrian Whisperers.

Borea gave her people the ability to create feelings of hatred in their enemies, and in special cases, some did not even need the cursed mist to create the rage and anger within other enorians. She called them Boreans.

Trosk, like their sister Aethos, did not create a people, for they were too busy painting the world, adding beauty to it, and they saw the beauty in all people and all things and did not feel a need to have their own race.

Kezerien gave his people destructive elemental powers, showing them how to breathe and throw fire, form ice, and use lightning to destroy, and the other gods thought this was too much power for one race, but each race had their own special abilities, Aesa told them, and these were Kezerien’s choice. He called them Kezerites.

Zura decided to only bless one enorian at a time rather than create her own people. Upon that enorian, who could be from any of the eleven races, she passed her knowledge of all things, extending their life by placing a gem in the palm of their hand, and gave them glimpses into the future to ensure all stayed as it should on the mortal realm. She called them her Zaria.

When Serth joined them, they were surprised, for they didn’t know yet he existed. And when Aesa asked him if he wanted to create a race, he said no, for all he could give his people was the misfortune from which he had been born. And so the gods and the enorians were created, and that is why Aesa is called the mother god, for all life spawned from her, and she watches over everyone, gods and mortals alike, even now.

What I wrote over the last week:

A first person version of “The Spirits of the Sea,” which will likely end up being the start of a novel-length story.

A scene from book two that’s originally written from Vivian’s POV, rewritten from Rowan’s POV (just for funsies. I love and miss Rowan).

What I’m reading:

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson (Yes. Still. So close to done, though! By next week I’ll have a new book to share. Maybe a couple.)

A final note: Starting next week, I’ll be posting on Saturdays instead of Thursdays, since I’m starting a new job that gives me weekends off (Woohoo!). To see regular updates, check out my Facebook page or Instagram. Happy Thursday!