Yes, Horses Do Show Up In Most Things I Write

There’s a video of me at the age of six where I proudly announce, in Dutch, that I want to take horseback riding lessons (or, I guess more accurately, “horse lessons”). Lucky for me, there was a small horse farm fifteen minutes from where we lived. When I was seven, I started taking lessons there. And my intense love of horses has never faded. All through school, including Undergrad, I rode at least once a week, usually more. I even started showing in sixth grade through 4-H, though I was never the biggest fan of it. The first show I went to wasn’t one I was in, but one I went to watch. I don’t recall most of it, but I strongly remember getting stepped on three times by various horses while wearing flipflops. Which insane parent let me wear flipflops to a horse show?

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From riding them to reading about them to playing with horse toys to collecting Breyer statues that I still own to this day, I fully immersed myself in being a crazy horse girl. I even wrote about them.

The first story I remember writing was started in an unlined journal while sitting in the airport, probably on the way to or from Holland, and to no one’s surprise, it was about a girl who had horses. Now, I can’t remember what it was about beyond that, but I’m almost certain it was inspired by The Unicorns of Balinor, because I’m pretty sure the characters were named Ari and Finn, both of whom are characters in that series. Either that or I just liked the names.

Horses have never stopped appearing in my stories since that first one, nor have I stopped reading about them. Once again, shocking to not a single person, one of my favorite books is The Scorpio Races, which is all about horses, both real and mythical. All throughout school I read horse books, many of which I still own (including the entire Unicorns of Balinor series), and even as an adult I still seek them out, though they’re surprisingly harder to find unless you want to read non-fiction, which is generally not something I’m searching for. This is even more true if you’re looking for fantasy. Don’t worry fellow horse lovers, I’m coming to your rescue 😉.

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Maybe that’s partially why horses play such a big role in most of my stories. That’s not to say I can’t write something without horses in it – The Children of Oher features exactly zero – but if there’s a place for them, I’ll make sure to fill it. There’s a quote by Toni Morrison that goes, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it,” and I certainly seem to be doing that when it comes to including horses. So yes, I do fully intend to write Spirits of the Sea solely as an excuse to write about them, because I know some other crazy horse person out there will appreciate it as much as I do.

What’s something you love that you just can’t help putting into the things you create?


What I wrote over the last week

Chapters twenty-one through twenty-four of The Children of Oher

What I’m currently reading

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

The Last Revision by Sandra Scofield

Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman

The Importance of Flexibility

This month has been a lesson in not getting too hung up on writing plans. I made myself this very specific, month-by-month schedule for writing for the year at the end of 2020. But as this month has progressed, and The Children of Oher has kept growing beyond what I can reasonably finish by the end of January, I’ve had to accept that this year probably won’t go quite as I’ve arranged. I might need more than three months to revise the second Enorians book, and then I might need more than two months to give the first Enorians book another look before I start querying it.

This week the owner of the horse I ride every Wednesday told me she would be out of town this weekend and next weekend and said I could ride him a couple extra days. While I obviously very happily agreed, because I’d never turn down extra pony time, it does mean that my writing has and will continue to suffer a little. I simply have a significantly smaller number of hours after work to write when I ride.

So, I’m trying to be flexible and forgive myself if things don’t go quite as I planned. It’s important not to get too hung up on how you think things should go. It’s important not to beat yourself up if you don’t write that exact number of words you were hoping for (guilty of doing that myself on many occasions). It’s important to remember that there will just be days when life gets in the way, and it’s not the end of the world that you didn’t get to write.

I have a whole second half of the year schedule, but honestly, if I can get the two Enorians books revised and start querying the first one, I’ll be happy.


What I wrote over the past week

Chapters eighteen, nineteen, and twenty of The Children of Oher

What I’m reading right now

The Archive of the Forgotten by A.J. Hackwith

Red Dust and Dancing Horses by Beth Cato

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

Revising

“The process of doing your second draft is the process of making it look like you knew what you were doing all along.”

– Neil Gaiman

I know a lot of people who moan and complain and say they hate revising, and I can absolutely see where they’re coming from. It’s tedious. It’s frustrating.  It’s a pain to have to restructure, cut entire chunks, remove entire characters or merge two because you realize you don’t need both of them. It’s particularly annoying when you get to rereading the same chapter for the seventh time, and you’re just tired of reading it again and again. It’s even worse when you end up entirely rewriting two-thirds of your book. Twice. And then realize you’ve got to remove 100,000 words, because it got wildly out of control during the last revision, and you’re cursing your past self.

Revising can be the worst, but also, I’m actively looking forward to revising the second Enorians book and later this year, giving the first another edit, too. During my final quarter of my Master’s Program, I got really bummed, because I missed writing about Rowan and Aurea and Vivian and all the other characters from the first and second books. I ended up writing a bunch of scenes just for the fun of it, and it was amazing to go back to them.

So while revising can be a pain, it means I get to spend time with those characters again, characters I’ve been missing for the last few months. Not just that, it gives me a chance to do those characters justice, to fix the bits of them and their stories that aren’t great yet, to take out things that don’t fit, to make them and the story better. It gives me a chance to fill in missing details and explore everything again. It gives me more time with my favorite characters. Characters that I know I’ll miss when all is finally finished, because I’ve been writing these people for years, and I love them. If you look at revising as a way to spend more time with the people you’ve created and care so deeply about, it’s really not so bad.


What I wrote over the last week

Chapters twelve, thirteen, and fourteen 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 Cato

The Unexpected Novel

Anyone else ever come up with a short story idea and have it turn into a novel? Somehow that happens with a lot of things I write, apparently. As I may have mentioned, I’m terrible at short things. Though, to be fair, this is considered short when you compare it to my Enorians books. I’m sure it happens to a lot of people. In fact, I was just watching the Neil Gaiman Masterclass, and he was talking about The Ocean at the End of the Lane, which, if you read my last post, you know if one of my favorites. That book started out as a short story, too, and then grew into the beautiful novel it is now.

Anyway, point is, here I am, writing an unintended book. Whoops.

In writing this, I started considering whether I should change my plans a bit for next year. Originally, I planned to revise book two of the Enorians Saga, then revise book one again once people get back to me, and in the second half the year, write book three. The thing is, though, I am well aware that my Enorians book one is long. It’s very long. Like in the 700s of pages long. And while that’s fine for already-published authors, I know publishers might be less likely to accept it simply because it’s…well, very long, and I am untested, if you will.

Now, that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try querying it next year anyway, because I will, but I’m considering using the second half of the year to revise The Children of Oher a couple of times instead of writing Enorians book three. See, I have a feeling this much-more-reasonable-length book will be easier to have picked up, since it looks like it’ll be coming in under 100,000 words (Enorians book one, on the other hand, is over 200,000). That way, in case I struggle to get Enorians book one picked up, I have the Children of Oher to start sending out in 2022. Gotta be realistic, right?

That also gives me a chance to write my horse story, Spirits of the Sea, since that should also come in at a much more reasonable length than anything Enorian-related. Who knows, though, maybe I’ll just really want to work on Enorians book three in July.

If all goes as I hope, Enorians book one will be my debut novel. If not…Well, I like this new book, too, and then the Enorians will just have to wait their turn.

I know, of course, that self-publishing is an option, but that will be a last resort. I’d much prefer to go the traditional route. I definitely don’t need to be published by one of the big ones; I’m happy to be picked up by a small press, but there’s just so much involved in getting a book published that I’d rather let professionals handle (like finding editors, cover artists, formatting/layout, etc).

I was going to do a “Meet the Characters” for Enorians book two this week in anticipation of starting the revision next week, but since that’s being pushed back a month, let’s meet the characters from The Children of Oher instead! These will not be as extensive as the ones from my post a few weeks ago where I introduced Rowan, Aurea, and Draea from Enorians book one.


Meet the Characters

All pictures were made on artbreeder.com

Kora Mercer – Brought into Orilon against her will and forced to marry a man she’s never met, Kora just wants to get the heck out of there. While she doesn’t trust anyone around her, she is willing to use them to escape if that’s what needs to happen. Though she’s got no one left beyond the walls of Orilon, she still wants nothing to do with the town or the Children of Oher and would rather brave the abominations running around outside than stay where she is.

Asher Lindgren– Struggling between doing his duty to Orilon and Oher and also wanting to be with his best friend and love, Shay, Asher isn’t sure what to do. Shay’s been trying to convince him to leave, but Asher feels bound to do what needs to be done for the good of the Children. It’s more than that, though; he also fears he won’t be able to keep Shay safe from the monsters outside the walls, the same way he couldn’t protect his brother. He tells himself they can find happiness within Orilon, even while secretly knowing that isn’t true. 

Shay Clarke – Having been in love with his best friend, Asher, for years, Shay just wants to leave so they can be together. He let things be what they were for a long time, but once news came of the upcoming wedding, and knowing the two of them could never be happy in Orilon, he started trying to convince Asher to leave with him. The problem is, neither Asher nor Shay have ever gone beyond the fields just outside the walls, which means they’ll need help navigating the world beyond the town.

Cleo Harper – Aka Harp – Another of the girls who was brought in with Kora, she is forced to marry Shay, but as luck would have it (luck or Asher requesting the living arrangements), she ends up living right next to Kora. Like Kora, she wants to escape, too, but she does have people outside that she needs to find, so she asks Kora for help.

Oelia Payne – The Divine Elder of the Children of Oher. When the people of Orilon stopped conceiving female babies, she took it as a sign Oher was angry at them and was punishing them for allowing the abominations to live amongst them. She had to take matters into her own hands and start bringing in women from outside. Then the Melting Death happened, and she knew that was another punishment, not just of the Children but of the whole world. She’s doing all she can to attempt to appease the goddess and atone for their sins.


What I Wrote Over the Last Week

Chapters six, seven, and eight of The Children of Oher.

What I’m Reading Right Now

Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

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

How NaNoWriMo Went and What I Wrote

Phew, NaNo is over, and thank goodness for that. I am tired. It’s crazy that I managed to go beyond NaNoWriMo length in April and May. But, then again, I wasn’t working at that point, nor did I have anything else going on in my life given, you know, COVID, so I had all the time in the world to write. It was a bit different last month for a number of reasons. The first is that I started a new job, so I went from working something like twenty-five hours a week to suddenly working full time. Second, I wasn’t working on a novel or anything specifically planned or set like I was in April and May when I was working on book two of the Enorians Saga. Instead I had a vague idea of some stories I might want to write.

I’m really glad I decided to go with writing a bunch of different things, because I ended up coming out of it with six myths (only three more to go to hit my goal of twenty), a few short stories, and the start of two novels.  

There were so many days after waking up early and working eight hours that I just did not want to write. And three of those days I gave in and wrote nothing. A couple others I counted my blog posts to try to hit my word goals. It was rough. Writing is hard!

On days I was really on the struggle bus but knew I had to get those words down, I ended up writing things I knew would be easy, which was how I ended up writing about Rowan (seen on the left here in the art breeder version I made) and Ien for funsies. But I did manage, for the most part, to write consistently. The first time I attempted this was my sophomore year of undergrad when I got halfway. And this year I finally finished! Which means that I wrote 50,000+ words in a month three times this year. Which is kind of absolutely insane.

Props to anyone who manages this while working full time, especially if they have kids, too, or things they have to do outside of work. Managing full time work and existing as a human adult who also has hobbies and friends and family and responsibilities can make it hard to fit writing in. It’s so easy to make excuses, to find reasons not to write, and for so many years I made those excuses and found those reasons. It wasn’t until I started my master’s program and decided that seriously this time, I was going to write every day whether I wanted to or not, that things changed. And as I said, there are certainly still days where I don’t write, but they’re far and few between compared to before.

Also, can I just mention how difficult finding a good picture to along with my daily Instagram post was? Especially when I was trying to post them right before bed. When in doubt, post a cute picture of a cat, right? (Haha see what I did there? A cute cat ->)

So what’s next? Well, this month I’m continuing one of the novels I wrote the first chapter of… After I finish the character sheets and planning out specific story moments. So, you know, probably like six days after I originally wanted to start it, but oh well. And then when the new year hits, I want to revise Enorian Saga books two and one (again) and then write book three. Maybe I’ll even come up with titles at some point so I can stop referring to them by number.

All right, enough rambling. Let’s look at what I wrote last month, and maybe share an excerpt for each section 😉.

Things I wrote during National Novel Writing Month

Myths

“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.

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

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

“Borea’s Heart of Darkness” – 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.

Excerpt from pages two and three of “Borea’s Heart of Darkness”

Ashira’s head swam as she pushed open the door. She dropped to her knees, weeping at the sight of her parents dead in their bed. A wave of weakness washed over her, and she pressed a hand to the wound along her belly. It burned beneath her palm, hot and painful. She didn’t know what was wrong, but she knew she was dying. She felt it.

She sank onto her side, stating up at the bed, surrounded by the heavy silence of her slaughtered family. Her family had long ruled Lirona, and though she did not know for certain who had sent the assassin that murdered her family in their beds, she knew she could not die without punishing them.

Closing her eyes, Ashira stoked her hatred for the Sandrian assassin and the unknown person who had given her the assignment. She let the hatred, the anger consume her, and then she prayed to Borea. She had heard tale of an item blessed by the goddess of hatred. A special lantern that would keep the holder alive until they got their revenge.

Borea, in her realm where it rained acid and blood, heard Ashira’s prayers over the moans and screams of caged souls. So great was the princess’s hatred and anger that Borea felt it through the suffering of those around her. Borea understood the need to sate the bloodlust. And who better to offer her Heart of Darkness to but someone so desperate for vengeance that they would prolong their life to achieve it?

But the lantern came with a price. Before she sent it to the girl, Borea spoke to her through the still-pooling blood of her parents. The blood slid off the bed and formed a vague-enorian shape in front of Ashira. It stood mere inches high, but the voice that rang out was clear and laced with loathing.

I have heard your prayers, Ashira of Lirona. I will give you that which you so desire, but know it comes at a cost. You have until the light goes out to kill your target, at which time, you will die. If the light goes out before you kill your target, you will die. Upon your death, your soul will come to me, where you will spend eternity among the tortured souls in my realm. Do you still wish to seek your vengeance?

Ashira stared at the wavering blood-made being before her. She didn’t care where she went after she died. All she wanted was to destroy the person who had slaughtered her family. “Yes,” she whispered.


Short Stories

“Spirits of the Sea” – Once a year, the residents of Senresse ride their horses down to the sea to wash the evil winter spirits from their legs. But danger lurks beneath the waves, for the sea spirits require a sacrifice to keep the island flourishing (this was really just an excuse for me to write about horses).

An untitled story about a girl who receives a phone call from her mom, who died the year before.

An untitled story about a server struggling while being the only one on shift as told via table numbers.

“The Journals of Silsia” – Silsia was one of the enorians who first came through the portal. These journal entries show her struggle in adapting to this new, strange place.

Excerpt from the first journal entry in “The Journals of Silsia”

Day 2

It’s terrible, staring up at the portal jutting up into the sky, knowing we’ll never go back. We arrived at the beginning of the cold season, it seems, though we have no idea when – or if – the weather might change. Perhaps there is only a cold season here. All I know is the snow keeps falling, coating the ground in a thick, white layer. My clothes barely ward off the chill. I miss the coat our creator blessed me with. The thick, shaggy hair would’ve kept me warm like it always does during the winter.

But it’s more than that. It’s more than just missing my coat. Kalasandria “blessed” us all with these human forms, as she called them. The Zaria tells us we have to wear them to blend in, in case any humans show up. But I haven’t seen another soul since we arrived. Only us enorians. I hate this form. It’s so confining. My skin prickles and itches like it knows it’s not my real skin, like the hairs of my true form tickle it from beneath. And I keep forgetting I don’t have my secondary arms. I dropped a mug the other day, one of the few Dris and I managed to bring. I went to grab it with my lower hand, forgetting I didn’t have it, and the mug shattered on the frozen ground. That’s the fourth time I’ve dropped something now. I don’t now if I’ll ever get used to this.

The Zaria says it’ll take time, but we’ll all get used to these new forms. Those of us with wings seem to be struggling more than us land-bounders. They’re used to flying everywhere, but now they have to be careful. They can’t be seen, the Zaria warns. Apparently, these humans can be hostile when faced with something unknown.

If we don’t finish up these shelters we’re building soon, I’ll have to change back, no matter what the Zaria says. I’m freezing, and so is Dris.

I don’t want to sound ungrateful. Kalasandria did save us from Enos and the war, after all, but why didn’t anyone consider our living arrangements before we came through the portal?

The portal that’s now sealed. Closed off to us forever. Will I ever see home again? 


Starts of Novels

Chapter one of The Children of Oher, which started out as a short story idea, then was going to be a novella, but then I plotted out the chapters the other night. Now it looks like it’ll more than likely turn into a novel.

Kora Mercer (pictured in the art breeder version I made) 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.

Chapter one of the novel version of Spirits of the Sea, which will be told in first person from the point of view of the sister of one of the protagonists of the short story version. – When Amalia’s (pictured here in the art breeder version I made) brother is taken by the sea spirits, she takes matters into her own hands and searches for a way to travel to Ijamere to get him back. 

Excerpt of the first two pages of chapter one of The Children of Oher

Kora’s wedding day looking nothing like how she’d imagined it in her childhood. First, she was only eighteen. She’d always thought she would be well into her twenties or older. Someone else had picked out her dress, a simple, straight white thing that made her feel like she was wearing a sack. Not the graceful gown she’d pictured, with a flowing train and a sparkling bodice. She didn’t have a veil, though she’d always liked the idea of her husband lifting it to kiss her when the time came. Her hair hadn’t even been done nicely. It lay in its dark, messy waves, the top all frizzy from having a bag pulled off her head. Not pinned up in some elegant style like in the pictures with diamond-studded hairclips and flowers weaved throughout. And the last thing she’d ever wanted was to get married in the middle of summer outside. The sun beat down on her, making her hot and uncomfortable. But worst of all, the man Kora stood in front of, the man she was supposed to marry, wasn’t a man she loved. In fact, she hadn’t met him until ten minutes earlier.

Trying not to look into the stony face of her supposed future husband, Kora glanced at the people around her. They stood in a garden surrounded by houses. An unnaturally perfect garden. Kora had always liked overgrown ones, where the plants were allowed to flourish and go where they wished, but this one felt sterile, controlled. Each flower, each leaf, each petal placed just so. Water rushed somewhere behind her. A river? She wasn’t sure. The grass prickled against the soles of her bare feet.

She wasn’t the only one girl who seemed out of place. On either side of her a half circle stretched at least ten girls long, each one wearing the same sack of a white dress. She couldn’t get a good look at some of them, but the ones she could see looked to be in various states of shock or grief. The blonde girl beside her wept silently, eyes on the ground, her shoulders slumped. She couldn’t have been more than sixteen. The woman on Kora’s other side had hair as green as the eyes she darted in Kora’s direction. Woman, Kora thought, but young, still. Not much older than herself. All the girls in line couldn’t have been older than their mid-twenties. Had they all been brought in from the outside like her?

Each of the girls had a male opposite standing in front of her. Kara glanced at the man before her again. His skin was the color of wet driftwood, and black eyebrows formed a deep frown, his forehead winkled and beading with sweat. The muscles in his jaw stood out, as if he clenched them. But his deep-set eyes weren’t on her. They gazed at something to beyond her, and when they flicked to her, she quickly looked away.

Beyond the couples, if they could even be called that, the garden was filled with a large crowd, all dressed as if they were attending an actual wedding rather than whatever this was supposed to be. They spoke to each other in quiet, excited voices. What were they all waiting for?

Trying to relief the discomfort of keeping her arms behind her back, Kora rolled her shoulders, grimacing. She tried her plastic cuffs again, moving her hands in hopes this time they were looser. The cuffs rubbed painfully against the already sensitive skin of her hands. All the attempt did was earn her a sharp jab in the spine. She shot a glare back at the man behind her. That earned her another jab in the same bruised spot.


Other

I wrote five different chunks of scenes written just for fun, which consisted of things that happened in book two of the Enorians Saga but in this case written from an alternate point of view, background information on the antagonist of all three books, and a couple of scenes that might end up in book three.

I’d given an excerpt from my “other” things but a lot of it is very spoiler heavy in terms of things that happen either between books one and two or in book two, soooo I’ll have to skip that.

What I wrote over the last week

I finished up “Borea’s Heart of Darkness”

A scene about Ien and Akrin that will hopefully take place in book three in some capacity.

I then took two days to do nothing to recover from NaNoWriMo and used the next couple days to plan out The Children of Oher.

What I’m reading right now

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

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

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!

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