Food in Fiction

I’m always impressed when authors put a lot of thought into the foods in their stories. Harry Potter is the first example that comes to mind because of the sheer creativity of its chocolate frogs and pumpkin pasties and sugar quills and butterbeer. But even simpler descriptions, like the specifics of smelling cardamom and honey and tea or the characters having pumpkin stew and garlic flatbread in The Sky Beyond the Storm are enough for me to appreciate the effort the author put into their food choices. And I think the reason behind being so impressed is because I have no idea what to include when it comes to food. I have some automatic go-tos, like stew. Always stew. Or meat and potatoes. You know, things that I eat. I struggle with it, and I know it’s something I need to work on.

So, when I started writing “Spirits of the Sea,” which is inspired by a Dutch tradition where draft horses are ridden down to the sea, I wanted to include super Dutch foods. And I wanted to try really hard to add in a wide variety of different things and get specific with the details.

Well, lucky me, I’m Dutch and have regularly gone to Holland since moving to the States back in the late 90s. Not to mention that my dad always brings back a suitcase full of food or asks us to bring a ton for him if we go without him. So finding very specific foods to write about was easy, and I had a lot of fun with it, especially with trying to figure out how to describe and translate what it all was into English.

And now, obviously, I have to show some of my hard work. Here’s a little snippet from during the ride (Now I just need to include nice specifics like this into everything else I write):


They paraded through the center street, weaving their way toward the sea waiting beyond the grassy dunes. Cheers went up as the horses passed. People shouted at those they knew. The scent of fries and deep-fried and grilled meats, herring and smoked eel, and freshly baked pastries and sweet cotton candy wafted over the riders and gathered crowd of people watching.

Veerlie’s stomach rumbled as the wind whipped the scent of her favorite deep-fried, raisin-stuffed, powdered-sugar-covered, fritters toward her. They were only ever made the week of the sea ride. Now that her nerves were under control, she realized how hungry she was and wished she’d eaten a better breakfast.

“That smells so good,” Marysa said wistfully, looking over at the mini-pancake stall standing in front of a dark-windowed store. A line of people wound its way around behind the gathered watchers.

“On our way back, we should stop to get food. I’m starving,” Veerlie said. The sweet, buttery scent hit her and sent her stomach rumbling again. Her mouth watered at the idea of the puffy palm-sized pancakes coated with powdered sugar.


What I wrote over the last week

Chapters fifteen, sixteen, and seventeen of The Children of Oher.

What I’m reading right now

The Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir

Red Dust and Dancing Horses by Beth Cao

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Rennie Brown & Dave King

What Inspires Us?

We all have different things that inspire us, but I guess the question I’m really asking is where do our ideas for stories come from? I’m sure everyone has a different system of coming up with stories. Some might take moments from life and write a story based around those. Others might see a picture and create a story to go along with it. There are hundreds, probably thousands of writing prompts on the internet to leap off from. In Zen in the Art of Writing Ray Bradbury talks about writing lists of nouns, and he’d end up writing stories based on those words. In a class I took during my final quarter at Lindenwood, we had to randomly select numbers that would give us our starting character(s) and the first sentence that would be our jumping off point. And from there we were to come up with a novella idea. A whole novella idea with a plot outline and everything. I thought for sure the professor was nuts. It’s amazing what can come out of something as simple as: Woman and girl (child) & “The grass had grown knee high.” I now have not a novella idea, but rather, a novel idea, because I’m terrible at keeping anything short.

Besides that, I only have a few specific memories of things that have inspired me or where specific stories came from.

I don’t know where the original idea for the enorians came from. I just know it all started in high school when my friends and I were passing notebooks back and forth between class and roleplaying in them. The only really specific moment of inspiration I remember related to the Enorians Saga was when I was in Scotland. Our whole study abroad class took a trip to the Isle of Skye, and we went to see Old Man of Storr.

It was windy to begin with, but it just became all the more intense the farther up the hill we hiked (or more like struggled, panting the whole way). With the hovering fog and the wind nearly blowing us off the mountain, I made a joke to my friends about how it was actually just wind spirits protecting the rock and trying to stop us from getting too close because it was actually a portal to another world. And thus, the portal to Enoralori was born.

Funnily enough, some of my other ideas have spawned from dreams. If you read the blog post about my mom, you’ll know the short story I wrote about the girl getting a phone call from her dead mom came from a dream I had, where my mom called me.

The novel (which grew from a short story to a novella to now a novel… whoops) I’m currently working on – The Children of Oher – also came from a dream. I dreamed that I was being forced to marry some guy I didn’t know by this cult, but really he didn’t want to marry me, either, because he was in love with his best friend. And even within the dream, I looked at the person next to me, and went “This would be a good idea for a story.” And now here we are, writing that story.

And, of course, I have to mention where “Spirits of the Sea” came from. I saw a video on facebook of Dutch people riding their draft horses down to the sea and I loved it so much I immediately went, “I have to put this in a book somewhere.” I ended up turning it into a fantasy short story, which morphed into a novel idea, because of course it did.

The one other specific memory I have of inspiration happened last year before we went to Belize. Our friends told us it would be a good idea to get a base tan before we went, since we were going in November, and the sun there is pretty intense. So I did that, and one day while I was lying in the tanning bed, I thought about how nice and warm it was. And an idea for a character popped into my head. A woman who used tanning as a way to relax after a hard day of work. It turned into some kind of weird body horror thing, because apparently that’s something I can write, I guess. I haven’t actually finished that story yet, but it exists in a half-finished state.

I also think it’s interesting to consider what inspires us in the sense of the types of things we create. I can’t seem to steer away from fantasy, nor do I really have any desire to, and I know for certain that’s because my love of reading all started with Harry Potter and has only continued to be fueled by fantasy since. I think that’s also the reason why most of my writing somehow tends to involve monsters and battles, despite that I actually hate writing battles haha. And, of course, there has to be some kind of love or romance aspect in every story, because I’m always a sucker for a love story. The enorians gods came into being after I took a Greek Mythology class during college, and while the gods themselves aren’t based on any specific gods, the idea of enorians having numerous gods came from Greek Mythology.

It’s funny. I worried in the past that I would run out of ideas. I wondered how authors could just keep coming up with new concepts, and now I’m sitting here with six books I want to write for the Enorians Saga and one prequel-type novella/novel to go along with that. I’ve got The Children of Oher I’m working on, and four more book ideas beyond those. So I guess it’s safe to say I probably won’t run out of ideas anytime soon. And hopefully if I ever do, the inspiration fairy will find me in my dreams.


What I Wrote Over the Last Week

Chapters two and three of The Children of Oher

What I’m Reading Right Now

Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Horsemanship Through Life: A Trainer’s Guide to Better Living and Better Riding by Mark Rashid

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

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!

World Fantasy Convention

I’m participating in my first writing (virtual) convention this week! It started yesterday, and it has been absolutely phenomenal so far! I learned so much already between the editing, world building, and query letter writing workshops. I can already see why people participate in these kinds of things on a regular basis. The next four days will be jam packed with just so many fantasy and writing panels and readings by authors and digital art shows. Many of which I’m sure will help make my writing better! I’m so excited to see what the rest of the week brings. I’m going to be mentally drained by Sunday night, but it’ll be so worth it.

Here’s a picture of Captain helping me learn about world building. Ever the faithful assistant (and demander of pets).

I didn’t do a whole lot of writing this week what with preparing for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which starts Sunday, and also getting ready for the convention, but I did finish up a “short” (I say because it’s 27 pages) story I started a few months ago. I thought it might be fun to give a little excerpt from that, so here’s the first page and a half.


Excerpt from “Spirits of the Sea”

The wind moaned as it swept through Senrese in the early hours of the first day of spring. The villagers had long believed the moaning was caused by the spirits of the sea, and the fact that the sound seemed to originate from the water only helped fuel those beliefs. The wind rattled the shutters of steep-roofed houses, rustling well-kempt bushes and causing dimly lit lampposts to sway as it blew along the red bricked streets. The air smelled of an oncoming storm, the dark, swollen clouds covering the moon.

Newly sixteen-year-old Veerlie Smalbrok lay awake in her bed, staring up at the glow-in-the-dark stars. They were the same stickers she’d placed there with the help of her best friend, Marysa, when they were in first grade. She’d sat on her mom’s shoulders, sticking the little plastic pieces to the ceiling. Then they’d run next door to do Marysa’s room, too. She wondered, listening to the wailing wind make the rusting windmill atop the barn creak and groan, if Marysa was also lying awake with her stomach in nervous knots so bad it hurt. In only a few hours they’d both be riding, for the first time, in the four hundredth annual sea ride. Anyone with a horse would ride through town and down to the beach to wash their horse’s legs in the salt water to banish the evil winter spirits.

She almost grabbed her phone to text Marysa, but she didn’t want to wake her friend if she was asleep. The clock on her nightstand read 4:06. Only three hours until she had to be up.

Next door, Marysa Kenser slept deeply beneath her glow-in-the-dark stars. Her dreams were full of nightmares where her mare, Mellie, shrank to so small Marysa could touch the ground from her back. In one she rode through the streets naked. In another she felt herself pulled beneath the waves. She rolled over in her sleep, bunching the handmade quilt in her fists.

A few miles down the road, the moaning wind whipped through an open barn door, sending the hanging lightbulb swinging back and forth. Twenty-two-year-old Joren Holka stroked Wybren’s thick, bay neck. The gelding stiffened at the sound, snorting nervously. Joren couldn’t sleep, so he’d come to check on the horse for the sixth time since dinner. He ran his hands down Wybren’s legs, down across the feathers around his hooves, making sure the horse was in top shape for the ride that afternoon.

It was his and Wybren’s fifth year parading through the streets. His sister, Amalia, had just turned sixteen and would be riding their other horse alongside him. Their parents weren’t exactly thrilled at the idea of Amalia riding so soon, but it was tradition, and she’d insisted. Joren promised to keep her safe.

He did one last check of Wybren’s body, gave the gelding a pat, and went to inspect their other gelding, Soleil, before heading back inside to hopefully get a few hours of sleep before the long day ahead of him. A spattering of rain lashed against his back as he ran to the dark house across the yard…


What I wrote in the last week:

“The Soulbond Mark” – An enorian myth explaining markings

The last seven pages of “Spirits of the Sea” – Every spring the people of Senrese ride their horses down to the sea to wash their legs in the salt water. It’s said to get rid of bad winter spirits. But danger lurks beneath the waves, for the sea spirits require a sacrifice to keep the island flourishing.

What I’m reading this week:

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson (Yes, still reading Mistborn haha)

Writing Unforgettable Characters by James Scott Bell

Meet the Characters!

Today we meet the three POV characters of book one, and I’ve mentioned a few of the important side characters at the bottom. If only I had pictures of them, but those will come (hopefully soon). So, without further ado…

Aurea Alivau

“An angry screech ripped through the air. Clinging to her galloping horse, Aurea Alivau glanced behind her.” – Start of Aurea’s first chapter, book one of The Enorians Saga.

A Sandrian, (race based on Kalasandria, goddess of secrecy and deception) Chosen-of-Enos (aka Loyalist) spy/assassin, who loves her bff so very much, and is incredibly prejudiced against humans and Goriens. She’s the first in hundreds of attempts to survive a special marking that will help her succeed in her mission. Aurea is sent to Orien’s Haven to get close to Rowan to find the location of a woman her superiors have been searching for, for hundreds of years.

She’s 111-year-old but in human terms looks to be in her early twenties. She’s 5 foot 3, and in her human form she has short, curly, black hair, brown skin, and dark eyes. And in her enorian form she’s got black, shining hair that gleams teal in the sunlight, liquid black eyes, dark grey skin, sparrow-like wings that shine like her hair, and small, thin, dark horns.

Her hobbies include running, training, spending as much time as possible with Draea, and once she’s in Orien’s Haven, riding. Her likes: stormy weather, cats, the dark, water, cooking with Draea. And dislikes: humans, Goriens, dogs, and not being able to take long flights because her wings aren’t built for it.

Her closest friend is Draea Sandoval. She and Draea also have a black and white cat named Jinx. At the start of the book she’s coming from The Enosian Isles, but she lives for the rest of it in Orien’s Haven.

Rowan Darrow

“Rowan was keenly aware of how close Lena’s chest was to his back. He wasn’t sure what to make of her, though he’d decided to believe her for the moment.” – Start of Rowan’s first chapter, book one of The Enorians Saga.

The offspring of a human woman and half-Gorien (race based on Goriel, the god of the harvest and agriculture)/half-Lorosian (race based on Loros, god of light and crafting) man, Rowan is the self-loathing, people-pleasing, horse-and-dog-loving, master of Orien’s Haven and one of five on the council that protects Aldar’s descendants (who will eventually birth the prophesied child).

He’s 153-years-old but in human terms looks like he’s in his late-twenties. In his human form, he’s six-foot, red-haired, and pale with hazel eyes. His enorian form is a hot mess due to being half-human, so he almost never shifts into it.

His hobbies include horseback riding, hunting, playing cards with Robin, and archery. His likes: dogs, horses, coffee, kids, and spending time outside. And dislikes: fog (there might be mistmarked in there. You never know), himself/what he is, Londoners (and the stonemarked), Loyalists, and carving/whittling.

His closest friends are Robin Lorane, Siren, Dahlia Verral, and his dog, Ateela, and horse, Alvaro. He lives in Orien’s Haven.

Draea Sandoval

“Draea Sandoval burst into the dim infirmary room where her best friend of nearly ninety years lay on little more than a cot. Melting snow left bootprints behind on the stone floor.” – Start of Draea’s first chapter, book one of The Enorians Saga.

The half-Veroxian (race based on Verox, god of night and future sight)/ half-Enosian (race based on Enos, god of war) daughter of the leader of the Chosen-of-Enos, Draea is a still-grieving widow fifteen years after the death of her son and husband. She clings to the people she has left, Aurea and Akrin. And she has a strange ability that she believes comes from her father’s unnaturally long life.

She’s 147-years-old but in human terms looks to be in her late twenties. She’s 5 foot 8, and in her enorian form has dark greyish-brown scales covering most of her body, though her visible skin is the color of wet sand. She has long, shiny black hair, black eyes, and dark bat-like wings with typically Veroxian four-fingered hands at the tops. And her horns consist of short, sandy-colored spikes that run along and down the top of her head in two rows. She never bothers to use her human form.

Her hobbies include running, sparring with Aurea, cooking with Aurea, and basically doing anything else with Aurea. Her likes: stormy weather, sitting outside with the stars, flying, spending time with Akrin, and lying outside under the tree in their backyard with Aurea. And dislikes: Super bright days (her eyes aren’t great at seeing in bright light or in the dark), anything to do with hunting, cold temperatures, coffee, and dogs.

Her closest friend is Aurea Alivau, though she’s also very close to her younger brother, Akrin Ensori, and Aurea’s brother, Ansel. She and Aurea have a black and white cat named Jinx. She lives on the Enosian Isles.

Important Side Characters

Robin Lorane – Rowan’s Veroxian bff who has a six-month-old son and lives in Rowan’s mansion along with a number of other people.

Zaria (aka Kadrial Zeka) – The ancient Kezerite (race based on Kezerien, god of destruction) and Zaria (the mortal representative of Zura, the goddess of time) who was instrumental in the founding Orien’s Haven and has been advising the Darrows ever since.

Eliana Viaro – The human granddaughter of Rowan’s ex-wife who becomes close friends with Aurea.

Akrin Ensori – Draea’s younger, Enosian half-brother.

Droken Ensori – Draea’s ancient Enosian father, who is the leader of the Chosen of Enos.

Tristan Darrow – Rowan’s father who lives by and guards the portal.

Ateela – Rowan’s massive Irish Wolfhound.

Alvaro – Rowan’s buckskin stallion.


What I Wrote Over the Last Week

“The Wings of a Gorien” – A myth about Loros blessing a Gorien with wings – Goriens don’t have wings. Instead, they have a second set of arms.

“The Dog Aesa Chose” – A myth about a dog so loyal and loving that Aesa took him into her realm upon his death.

A scene from Draea’s POV that takes place between books one and two. Just for fun. No spoilers 😉

What I’m Reading Right Now

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie

Belinda McCauley

Writer. Reader. Creator.

Daan Katz, Author

Where Magic Meets Reality

A.M. Sӧtemann

Writer of Fantasy and Lover of Books and Horses