An Ocean of Possibilities

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Back in April, I submitted a short story to The Writer magazine for one of their writing prompts: “An Ocean of Possibilities.”

Although I didn’t win, I feel my story is still worth sharing, and I’m very proud of it. If you’d like to read the winner’s story it can be found here: http://www.writermag.com/2015/06/17/short-story-contest-winner-normal/

One of the main complaints of the judges was that most entries were about death. Well, when you’re writing about the ocean, death is going to come up. It is a force of nature that takes lives on a daily basis. In any case, the winner they chose wrote about death as well, so I don’t know why they were complaining. Also, many awesome short stories end in death or have something to do with it. That was the topic of pretty much every short story we read in 9th grade English class. Anyway, my story is posted below. Feel free to let me know what you think of it!


Wondrous Treachery

When the sea calls to a heart, as it sometimes does, there is no course but to answer. It beckons with promises of beauty, wildness, freedom. It tempts the sensibilities with delicate offerings of peace and comfort. But one must take caution, for the careless are easily misled by this duplicitous seductress. Like so many facets on a glistening stone, a soft embrace can swiftly become cold, suffocating— fatal. A whisper to the soul’s deepest longings may be the last words you ever hear.

I should know; the sea has taken everything from me. Yet I stand here in the wreckage that remains, and it still has the audacity to pull at me, tease me. Even now, it tauntingly offers to unlock a wildness in my heart that only one other has ever inspired. It is ironic, I suppose, and perhaps fitting, that the two I loved best are now forever one. It was he who introduced me to this sapphire realm: his first true love. I never envied his devotion. I became as infatuated as he. But the sea is a terrible and jealous lover. It has taken my love, and I now stand an outsider, forever separated from both.

“What was it like when you took him under?” I whisper to the tides lapping at my feet. “What were you thinking when darkness finally ended the pain that you so callously inflicted? Did he curse your name, forsake you in his final moments—you who he adored above all others?”

I pause, wiping dark, salt-drenched hair out of my eyes. “Or was he faithful even then?”

I dare the sea to account for itself, to offer any justification however inadequate. But it remains ever and maddeningly silent. “You didn’t deserve his love,” I spit. “You are as insatiable as a desert. You took everything from him and gave nothing in return until there was only one thing left, and you took that too. He needed no other siren to call him to his grave—not when he had you.”

I gaze out across the gray expanse, alternating between feelings of rage, longing, pleading, and acceptance, just like the pulsing rhythm of waves crashing on this broken shore. What I am pleading for at this point, even I cannot say. The waters keep pulling at my legs, almost as though they are pleading with me as well, begging for my forgiveness. I know better than to listen. I take a step back out of reach.

“Are you at last content?” I question. “Or will you now focus your unending hunger on some other weak soul?”

I blink a few times, trying to keep the tears in. I wrap my arms around my waist as tight as I can, as if I can lessen the pain by suffocating it. “I remember his smile,” I continue, as if the sea cares to hear my pitiful words. “It shone through his eyes like sunlight on crystal waves.” How I regret that I was not there to save him, that the only one there to witness the final light in those eyes was the very one stealing it.

“You have no pity,” I suddenly scream, running into the waves and kicking them with all my strength. “You have no shame!”

As always, my efforts are in vain. My anger is drowned out by the repetitive sounds of the shore. I stumble to my knees, water and sand seeping into my clothes, into my skin, filling me with cold. An ashen wave foams around me, heedless of my presence as it continues its unending cycle of forward and back. Somehow it lulls me to a strange state of calm. When the next surge pulls away from me, it snares the insides of my torn heart and draws everything forth along with it. Sorrow pours out of my chest and disperses into the indigo depths, to places no man alive has ever seen. It is no more, and I am blank.

I don’t know how long it is I stay here on my knees, but it doesn’t matter. With every passing wave my knees skink further and further into the cold sand. As I sit, I imagine the tiny grains slowly covering first my legs, then my midsection, then all of me until I am nothing more than part of the land itself.

But I don’t want to be part of the land. All that I have imagined, all that I have dreamed, all that I love, and hate, is in the sea—is the sea. No matter how I may rail against it, still I cannot escape it. I do not wish to. I am captivated by salty winds, azure waters, and the mystery that lies beneath countless fathoms. I am filled with awe when rampant waves pound upon a resistant rocky shore, slowly but surely eating away even the most steadfast of cliffs. I am horrified when mighty storms rage and cause the very ocean to boil and churn, rising up like some living entity to destroy all life in its path. All of these are the same sea, and to love one is to love all, for you cannot offer such a beast only half your heart.

The tides rise, and the call becomes more intense. The echoing darkness offers me peace from my turmoil, rest from my pain. I close my eyes as the churning waters cover my head. My hair floats from my neck and drifts above me, suspended in the in-between like dark mats of seaweed. I stop resisting and let the current take me. I follow the sweet whisper that draws me ever onward towards the longing of my heart. Slowly, my eyes open and I look out into a world I’ve only dreamed of, a world of infinite wonders, and it is beyond imagination. I am no longer the outsider. I have given everything too, and it will forevermore be I, he, and the beautiful, treacherous sea.

One Can Never Have Too Many Maps

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I have always loved drawing my own maps. We had to do it in history class a few times in 6th grade, and ever since then I’ve been hooked. It always fascinated me how the shorelines of continents are not straight, but pitted and jagged, meandering on bends and subtle curves. No two are the same, and yet you can almost fit them together like pieces in a giant geologic puzzle.

Naturally, I couldn’t write my books without drawing maps for them. It’s as much for my sake as for the reader’s. I’d like to know where my characters live too!

I just finished one map for Worldweaver. I’m thinking there will be two: one of Gealgath and one of Valta. Possibly, I will also include the map of the entire planet again, although the picture turned out very small last time so I don’t know if it’s worth it.

This one is of the entire empire of Gealgath. In the map of the Nordean Continent, most of Gealgath got cut off because I ran out of room. It wasn’t important then because the story didn’t take place there. For book 2, that is not the case, so the crazy cartographer in me took up the pen once more!

gealgath

A couple things: I’m probably the only one who looks at my maps enough to know this, but I spell Ardik Ocean as Ardic here. My mistake for not doing it in pencil first or checking how I wrote it the first time on the world map. Also, you will notice Gypsum Flats is significantly smaller here than it is on the other map. This was mostly because I didn’t know how large I wanted it to be when I drew the other one, and now I do. I could also chalk it up to “The other map is not according to scale because it covers such a large area.” But mostly the first one…

Dress Up Time!

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A few years ago one of my awesome friends, Madi Rieksts, introduced me to the magical world of Ren Fest. I had heard of it before and always wanted to go. When I was in school though, we were always too busy with band competitions to go. I’m glad I eventually found my way there. If you are a lover of good fantasy, as I am, Ren fest is like a dream come true for several reasons:

1. You get to pretend like you’re living in some otherworldly, magical place.

Honestly, there’s no real time in history that Ren Fest portrays (Even though it’s supposed to be the Renaissance…?). It’s kind of this jumble of history, folklore, and fantasy. You will see royalty and peasants, but you’ll also see fairies, wizards, pirates, barbarians, and all sorts of magical folk.

2. The shopping is so much fun.

Some of the best artisans in the business sell their craft at Ren Fest. Whether you’re in the market for jewelry, rocks, awesome clothing, leather work, pottery, botanicals, soaps- you get the idea- it’s all there! You’ll find some of the most unique things at Ren Fest, and I love that.

3. You get to dress up like the characters in your favorite fantasy novels.

You read all those books growing up, with all those heroines who got to wear pretty dresses. Tell me you’ve never thought to yourself, ‘I wish I could wear a dress like that!’ Well, here’s your chance!

Speaking to this last one, dressing up is probably my favorite part. It just makes the whole experience more fun, and you can pretend like it’s real for awhile. I’m extremely excited for this year because I was finally able to buy my own corset! I’ve wanted one for awhile. The first year we went, I borrowed my friend Regan’s. Ever since then, I’ve been using a cheap black waist cincher I bought on amazon for $5 that looks like a lace-up corset in the front with velcro in the back. It worked ok, but I really wanted a boned corset.

Well, a few weeks ago I was finally able to buy one. . . and it arrived this morning! So naturally I spent the next 2 hours trying it on.

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The first year. I’m the dashing fellow in the center. Regan on the left and Madi on the right.

I’m so glad it came, but Ren Fest isn’t for a few months yet. But I don’t want to take it off! why can’t we dress like this for real? Oh well. Guess I’ll have to wait for September to roll around.

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The new corset. I’ve always wanted a copper colored one and I found it on amazon for only $15. Can’t do much better than that! all other parts of the dress were bought at salvation army for $9 total.

Wildflowers of Western PA

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Adam and I are extremely fortunate to live right next door to Raccoon Creek State Park. We love hiking there at all times of the year, as there are different aspects of every season to wonder at and love.

I have just recently gotten interested in identifying wildflowers. Adam bought me a field guide for Christmas, and we took it along on our hike yesterday. It’s amazing how many different flowers pop up in springtime, and how most of us don’t even notice half of them.

Here are the ones we came across just yesterday:

Garlic Mustard-- Alliaria officinalis

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria officinalis)

Grows from April-June. Small clusters of white flowers on top of plant. Four petals on individual flowers. Noted by triangular, heartshaped leaves,stalked and sharply toothed. Leaves also have an odor of garlic when crushed. Plant grows 1-3 ft.

Greek Valerain-- Polemonium reptans

Greek Valerian (Polemonium reptans)

Blooms from April-June. Five-petaled, bell-shaped violet flowers. Similar to the plant Jacob’s Ladder, but the stem is weaker and the leaflets are fewer on the leaves (5-15 instead of 15-19). Stamens also do not project beyond the flower as they do in Jacob’s Ladder.

Round-Leaved Yellow Violet-- Viola rotundifolia

Round-Leaved Yellow Violet (Viola rotundifolia)

April-May. Five-petaled yellow flowers. The only stemless yellow violet. Small in size, roundish leaves close to the ground.

Spring Beauties-- Claytonia virginica

Spring Beauties (Claytonia virginica)

March-May. Pair of smooth, linear leaves midway up the stem. Five petals that are white or pink, with dark pink veins. 6-12 in.

White Trillium-- Trillium grandiflorum

Large-Flowered or White Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum)

Blooms from April-June. Three broad leaves and three showy white petals. White flowers (2-4 in) turn pink with age. Plant grows 12-18 in.

We liked the Trilliums best on this walk because they covered the ground everywhere and it looked magical:

White Trilliums

Art All Night!

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One of my friends at Michael’s told me about this neat event in Lawrenceville, PA this weekend called Art All Night. Anyone can enter one piece of artwork and then you get to have fun walking around all night, looking at what everyone brought. I was going to enter one of my already finished pieces. But then I decided, why not make a new one? So I did! It’s not like I’m insanely busy this week already or anything… Somehow not having time to paint is always when I’m most creative, so I end up making the time. (I got a lot of B’s on finals because of that!)

This new piece is called Star Weaver. I won’t lie; I got the inspiration for this one from the name of my second book, but name only. This is NOT the Worldweaver, and is not associated with the book in any way. Except maybe the tortoise. I like him.

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I will be displaying this piece at Art All Night on Saturday, April 25th. Come have a look if you’re in town! Price will be $300.00

Here are some details

DSC03233

Cover Illustration and Title for Book 2

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The second book in the Eld Creatures Series is underway (and has been for over half a year). I must say the going has been a bit slow compared to the first book, but I’m a bit busier than I was this time last year. When you’re quarantined in Florida, don’t have a job, and can devote 14 hours a day to writing, things get done! Not the case this year, for which I am so thankful. Don’t get me wrong– being able to write book 1 so fast was an amazing gift, but it was probably the only good thing to come out of our time in Florida. Both Adam and I are much happier living near family and friends, and we both now have jobs we love.

Even though the going is slow for book 2, I’m still very excited about it. It WILL be written! I have so many vivid scenes running through my head I won’t be able to truly rest until they’re recorded safe and sound.

I made leaps and bounds of headway in one area: the cover art! Haha. One of my favorites. I also finally decided on a title after just calling it “book 2” for forever. Therefore, here is the finished work!

Worldweaver

If you’re wondering what the strange terrain is, it’s a salt flat (or salt pan). This terrain occurs in lakes where the climate is such that the evaporation rate exceeds the precipitation rate (desert). The water in the lake has evaporated, leaving behind precipitated salt minerals. The effect, if the lake is large enough, is a white blanket of salt as far as the eye can see.

All the characters in the image are newly introduced in book 2, which I obviously decided to call Worldweaver. From left to right their names are: Seren, Gypsi, Pyra and Darra. There will be three storylines to Worldweaver. First, I will continue with Morgan and Roden’s story. Second, I will introduce Princess Vivian and the four women listed above, and third will be Keeper Emer’s continued story.

Seeing as I’m only on chapter 3 I have a long road ahead of me, but I will love every minute of it!

I know it can be hard to see all the details of such a large image on the computer, but you can see the details a little better if you click on the picture.

A 15 year Search Now Comes to an End

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Those of us who are avid readers well remember the first book we read that got us hooked on a particular genre. For me, that book was Into the Land of Unicorns by Bruce Coville, and then the second book, Song of the Wanderer, shortly thereafter (as in the next day). If you had asked me whether or not I like to read before those books, my answer would have been, “It’s okay but not my favorite thing to do.” After the Unicorn Chronicles though, it was a resounding, “I love reading! It’s the best thing in the world!” After that I kept looking for more books in the fantasy genre and fell more and more in love with them until I became the book-crazed woman I am today. Seriously. It’s 2:50 am and instead of sleeping, I had to stop myself from buying three (okay, five) books not ten minutes ago.

Song of the Wanderer book cover by Bruce Coville. Illustration by Rebecca Guay.

Song of the Wanderer book cover by Bruce Coville. Illustration by Rebecca Guay.

Into the Land of Unicorns by Bruce Coville. Cover Illustration by Rebecca Guay.

Into the Land of Unicorns by Bruce Coville. Cover Illustration by Rebecca Guay.

But to the point. One of the first things that caught my eye about the Unicorn Chronicles books was the cover art. Just look at them; they’re gorgeous! As a budding artist, I have to admit that the reason I even gave the books a chance was because of the covers. Even today, that’s always one of the main factors that pulls me in. Obviously, it’s not the only one now, but if I’m on the fence and it has a great cover, I’m snatching that baby up!

Now, imagine my dismay when I flipped to the copyright page and the cover illustrator wasn’t given credit. I couldn’t believe it! I hurriedly flipped the book over to see if it was anywhere on the back cover, and it wasn’t there either. Remember that this was the year 2001 and internet searching, while around, only got you so far. I couldn’t find the artist anywhere. As a last resort, I asked Bruce Coville himself. Don’t worry, I gave him the proper praise and accolades for his amazing books before I got down to the main purpose for contacting him. Unfortunately, and to my horror, he didn’t know either! And that’s where the search ended and the trail went cold. Until tonight.

I was perusing some books on goodreads and came across a series I once read by susan fletcher. I found myself thinking, “I don’t own those. I should own those. The covers are gorgeous! They remind me of the Unicorn Chronicles.” So I skipped on over to amazon to have a look at them. With Amazon’s handy ‘look inside’ feature, I was able to have a peek at the copyright page. I have to admit, my heart was pounding a little because I thought it was too much of a coincidence how alike these covers were and they just had to be done by the same artist. Alas, no credit was given in these ones either! As you can imagine, I was a little more than frustrated. Still, I clicked on the back cover page just in case… and there it was: Cover illustration by Rebecca Guay. And I stopped breathing for a little.

I did a bit of internet searching, which wasn’t all that easy I have to say given that I 99% knew it would be her. There was nothing on her site about it, which confused me greatly. I almost gave up tonight, but I just had to know. As search two commenced, my suspicions were correct; Rebecca Guay illustrated Bruce Coville’s Unicorn Chronicles books, proof here, and I can rest easy now. Except that I’m so irrationally excited about this I can’t sleep!

For the complete list of books that this amazing artist has illustrated, you can go here. I myself have read seven of them and they’re all fantastic. I highly recommend them to young teens. The books I have read include:

Into the Land of Unicorns by Bruce Coville

Song of the Wanderer by Bruce Coville

Dragon’s Milk by Susan Fletcher

Flight of the Dragon Kyn by Susan Fletcher

The Wizard’s Apprentice by Jackie French Koller

A Wizard Named Nell by Jackie French Koller

The Wizard’s Scepter by Jackie French Koller

Of those, I only own three. I am now going to make it my plan to own as many of them as I can with Rebecca Guay’s original artwork. Most of the books have been reprinted now with new covers, but I will find those old ones if it kills me! If it’s one thing I’ve found, it’s that they don’t write books nowadays like they used to, and cover illustrations now stink just as bad. The old ways are always best.

The World of the Windkeeper: Earth Magic

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The magic of The Nordean Continent (refer to the maps) is elemental. Gealgath, the kingdom in the west, is the kingdom of earth magic. Each type of magic is ruled by certain guidelines and procedures. Below, the first of four (earth) is explained in detail. The others will follow.

Earth Magic

Earth magic encompasses the realm of rocks, minerals, geologic forces, and animals that walk upon the land (excepting reptiles). It includes dirt, but not grass or any other living plants. It is divided into five fields of study: Manipulation of Earth Substances, Energy Utilization, Earth Healing, Animal Communication & Location, and Earth Communication.

With all mages, it is important to be able to access your power. Dedicated meditation is the only way to access power and restore it once spent. Every mage has a power store within them. For earth mages, that store lies in their hearts. During meditation, a mage can relax and connect with the earth, filling up their power store to maximum capacity. The longer and more practiced the meditation, the more power a mage can hold.

Once meditation is mastered, an earth mage will be able to detect when earth magic is being used. The warning signal will be a red haze. Earth mages cannot detect when other forms of elemental magic are being used, and the same goes for other elemental mages.

The chart below shows the five fields and the minerals that can be used to access power from each.

earth magic table

Links

Each earth mage will form a link with one land animal. The link is as binding as linking with your power stone, and is for life. Once linked, the animal’s lifespan becomes attached to the mage in question. If the mage dies young, the animal dies as well. If the mage lives a long and happy life, the animal exceeds its own natural lifespan by many years. It is a gamble most animals are willing to make, as the benefits of such a link outweigh the risks.

There are many types of animals a mage can link to, although not all animals are suitable for every person. It is not always wise to link to the first animal that exhibits linking potential. For those who find it hard to find potential links however, it may be in your best interest to link with the first match you come across. It mostly depends on the mage.

Links are useful in many respects. First of all, they are lifelong companions. Although they do not speak as humans do, they can still communicate mind to mind, and as long as you live, you will never truly be lonely. Second, links can often go where a mage can’t, for one reason or another. Perhaps you need to glean valuable information, but it would be impossible for you to get it without giving yourself away. You can send your link to innocently overhear the information for you. Most people wouldn’t stop all conversation if a cat happened to walk into the room, but they would if the wrong person did. Third, with your link you can be two places at once. If you are on a journey but you need to know what’s going on back home, you can send your link to check on things. Lastly, you can see through the eyes of your link and into their minds. While you are looking through your link’s eyes, you will not be able to see through your own, so it is suggested that you make sure you are in a secure location before attempting this maneuver.

Power Stones

The earth mage uses minerals as his tools of magic. If he does not have the proper mineral on hand, his access to that field of power will be severely limited and mediocre at best. It can be done, but is not recommended as it is virtually ineffective.

A mage will have a mineral for each category. However, she will specialize in only one field. She will need to choose two stones for the field in which she specializes: a power stone and a secondary stone. The power stone pulls the maximum amount of power from the earth, and the secondary stone supports and focuses it. It is possible to perform earth magic in that field with only one stone, but the mage will not be working at maximum capacity. A mage should have six minerals in total to work with.

When choosing stones in all minor fields, a mage will feel a slight pulsing and the minerals will glow when picked up. The power stone is different. You will feel its effects long before you pick it up. The call of a power stone can be felt as far as five feet away. The closer you get to it the more intense the call becomes, and it doesn’t stop until you’ve finally picked it up. Once you do, your power stone binds with you. The binding process is intense and immediate. The stronger you are naturally, the stronger the bind. The effects can range anywhere from a gentle tingling warmth to a blinding light and force of energy that knocks you off your feet.

Once a mage has chosen his stones those are the six minerals he can use to access his earth powers, and they cannot be substituted with other minerals. All other minerals will be useless to him in terms of magic.

Below is a comprehensive list of possible power and secondary stones for each field. There are additional varieties of the minerals below that are not listed, but still available for use. For example, beryl is the listed mineral, but it has several varieties including (but not limited to) emerald, morganite, and heliodor.

power stone table

The World of the Windkeeper: Setting

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World building is great fun, especially when you have a background in geology. It’s one of my favorite things because when I’m making up my own world anything goes! I’m no longer bound by the constraints of this world; if I say the snow falls purple and hits the ground orange then it does!

Some may say making up your own world is the lazy way out because you don’t have to do any research, but they couldn’t be more wrong. World-builders are just that: we’re making planets here from the core on up. That takes a lot of imagination and knowledge of how the world works. Therefore, If I want to do it right, there better be a good reason for the snow to fall purple and land orange- a chemical reaction with substances on the ground perhaps? Granted, most people don’t go in depth that far. Personally, I think it’s fun! Just remember that the more you explain, the more real your world becomes.

The World of Endarah

Morgan’s world is one of myth and magic. The planet is named Endarah, although it is also simply referred to as the world and sometimes- though I shouldn’t have done it- earth (the reason being that I didn’t actually name the planet until I was proofreading. Great planning, I know. I win at planning).

As seen in the map below, Endarah is made up of ten tectonic plates: Vala, Bentic, Nordean, Laike, Olvarkian, Orsa, Svalta, Ardik, Vendor and Kantash. There are also little arrows showing direction of plate movement under each name. Plates and plate movement are important for determining what the terrain will look like, so I had to put them in. It would have been silly not to!

There are five continents on Endarah: Nordean, Svalta, Laike, Olvarkian, and Vendor.

♦ By creating a whole planet and knowing where each continent is, I give myself room to reference other kingdoms, and readers will be able to consult the map and know exactly where I’m talking about. I know what you’re thinking: there are a lot of kingdoms on that map. There can’t possibly be a profile for each one. And there isn’t! Yes, each one has a name but for most of them, that’s as far as it goes. I have a whole world of worlds set up here, and the next time I come up with a new idea, I can just attach it to one of my pre-named kingdoms and I don’t have to build a completely new planet. I could write a completely different series within the same world if I wanted to, and I probably will at some point.

a map of the earth

The Nordean Continent

Now, obviously the setting can be further reduced. All action in The Windkeeper takes place on the Nordean Continent, as pictured below:

A Map of the Continent

There are three kingdoms on the continent, as well as a province of land designated to a particularly hungry dragon. Magic will be spoken of at a later time, but the kingdoms each harbor people of a particular type of elemental magic. Norbane is kingdom of air mages, Eldemere is kingdom of water mages, and Gealgath is kingdom of earth mages. In the previous map, the small island nation of Valkur can be seen directly below the Nordean Continent. This island is home to the fire mages.

There are several key landmarks in the book, all labled in the map above- except for Laryndorn, which is the little castle next to the Laride Sea (I couldn’t tell you why I didn’t just label it).

  • Birchaven: A small farming town in the northern province of Norbane. The northern province is a misty, boggy, forested place. Few people venture up there, especially since it is so close to the North Lands. This is the town in which Morgan grew up. The mages of Norbane determined it was the best place to hide her so that Gealgath spies wouldn’t find her.
  • Ebony Tower: A giant black tower made from obsidian, located near the Frozen Sea in the North Lands. It houses a strange band of humans that claim to be priests and priestesses for a god named “Arah.” They sacrifice their children to this god.
  • Belydor’s Lair: Located in the far northern reaches of the North Lands, in the Mountain range to the east. It is a vast branching network of caves in the side of a mountain. One particular room is spelled to show the night sky at all times of the day so that Belydor can read the stars.
  • Laryndorn: The crown city of Norbane. Laryndorn is located on the shore of the Laride sea, which separates most of Norbane from Eldemere. Its main road is called “The Crescent Way” because it is shaped like a crescent, following the curve of the bay.

As well as the landmarks however, there are also a few important (or maybe just important to me) geologic features.

  • The Boundary: The mountains that separate The North Lands from the rest of the continent. A river rushes through them, carving out a branching cave network in the soft limestone layers. The mountains also mark the plate boundary between the Nordean Plate and the Vala Plate. The Nordean plate is moving north and the Vala Plate is moving south. There used to be a continent on each plate, but they eventually crashed into each other as the plates moved closer together, forming the mountain range that is there now. The landmass on the Vala plate was at a higher elevation, being a plateau. Therefore, entering the caves on ground level from the north means coming out several hundred feet up when you reach the other end in Norbane. Thousands of years ago, before Belydor was the only dragon left on the continent, the dragons used to use the caves in these mountains as a nesting ground. The reason being there is a hot spot underneath them. In that time, the hot spot heated the water that seeped through the rocks to considerable temperature and caused hot spings and geysers to erupt within the caves. To all but dragons, the caves were unable to be entered. Now that Belydor has claimed the land, he has cast an ice spell over it (his magic specialty is ice), and the effects have seeped into the mountains, almost equalizing the intense heat caused by the hot spot. Now, the water in the river and existing hot springs is only comfortably warm. Should Belydor ever leave and take his magic with him, the caves will go back to their previous volcanic activity.
  • The Crystal Sea: In the center of Belydor’s land, there is a large sea. No one knows what it was called before, but the current inhabitants call it the Crystal Sea, so named because it is completely frozen over. Even the waves stand silent and still, poised in the never-ending act of rising, falling, cresting or crashing. The waves themselves are quite tall, and have a maze-like effect when you are standing among them.
  • The Fjords of Eldemere: The Fjords are located in the southwest region of Eldemere. Because of an historical ice age, the area used to be covered in glaciers, but they have long since receded and melted away. Not, however, before they left their mark on the land.

The World of The Windkeeper~ Characters

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Every book has a back story, and mine is no different. Before you even begin to write, you have to build your world. Part of that process is filling it with unique and memorable characters. It’s been said many times, and it still remains true: you must build your characters and give them dimension. What are their strengths, weaknesses, physical attributes, and flaws? How will they change throughout the book? Perhaps they don’t change at all because their personality prohibits them from learning from past mistakes. All of this needs to be figured out, preferably before you set hands to keyboard to write sentence one.

Occasionally there will be that one character who surprises you in the middle of your book by slowly having changed without you intending it. Sometimes that’s fun and okay, but what you want to avoid is when your characters suddenly do things that are out of character for them. If you want them to be read a certain way, it is up to you to write them that way.

Now, it would be ideal if I followed my own advice. However, I must admit I did not write out detailed descriptions and traits for my characters before I started writing book 1. I suffer from the delusion that I have it all mapped out in my head and somehow I can remember it all. Plus, I half-believe that characters will write themselves if you don’t think about it too hard. Hopefully they didn’t suffer for it (I don’t think they did?). Regardless, I have done it the traditional way for book 2, and I must admit it makes the whole process easier. I did end up writing character descriptions for book 1 after the fact. Hardly helpful, I know. But it is kind of fun to look at all of them and see how they did or didn’t change throughout the book.

So here they are. I tried not to add any spoilers, although some couldn’t be helped. At your discretion, you can read these before, after, or along with the book. Enjoy!

THE CHARACTERS OF THE WINDKEEPER

Morgan Windkeeper

WK-Morgan

Morgan is a spirited, impulsive youth who holds fast to her ideals. She has an opinion on most everything and is not afraid to voice it. Still growing into her adult features, she is short, green eyed, and has long, curly auburn hair. At the beginning, she is fifteen years old. She starts out as a typical, slightly immature teenager; she doesn’t exactly know who she is going to be yet, but she does know that she doesn’t belong in the small town in which she’s been raised. She has always had a way with animals. When she learns that she has magic, her reaction is mixed; she is excited by it, but angry that it was kept a secret from her. She is in a unique situation because she is still mostly a child, but now has a great responsibility thrust upon her. She has to come to terms with that and try to accept it. Over the course of the book, Morgan has to face several confrontations that test her maturity and integrity. She handles each situation with a mixture of childish boldness and adult logic. This utilization of different levels of maturity is often why she is able to succeed where others might fail because of holding back.

Magic: Morgan’s magic is mixed. Her father was an earth mage of Gealgath and her mother was an air mage of Norbane. Therefore, Morgan has the magic of both air an earth. Her qualities with air are such that she is an Indigo Wind mage (the strongest a mage can naturally be without further study). Her magical tool for air is a copper panpipe. Her qualities in earth are such that she is a keeper: a mage with the ability to speak with, influence, and control earth animals. Her power stone is the mineral beryl, variety morganite. Her link is the marlen, Alpha Heliodor.

Master Roden Ravenstorm (The Stormseer)

WK-Roden

Roden is the most powerful air mage of Norbane, as well as an accomplished seer and scholar. His appearance can only be described as formidable; he is tall with black hair and grey eyes, and his aura speaks of storms brewing on the horizon. At the age of thirty-five, he considers himself superior to other humans because of his many accomplishments and unusual lack of need for the baser things in life, such as human companionship. As the story continues, Roden is forced to confront the realization that he is not so different from other people after all; Morgan brings out a humanity in him that he didn’t know he had. Torn by guilt for using her and the burning desire to do what’s right no matter the cost to her or anyone else, he must now reevaluate his priorities and figure out what really is most important to him. Before he can truly do that, he must first come to terms with his newly discovered humanity.

Magic: Roden is an air mage, as well as a seer. The seer trait comes from his father’s line. The gift of a seer is separate from the elemental gift, and springs from an ancestry on the continent of Svalta, kingdom Svengai. There are two types of mages that hail from Svengai: seers and nulls. They are bordered by the smaller kingdom of Valta, land of the shapeshifters. Roden’s air power is the strongest ever known to a human, at the level of Raven Storm. That means he can control the largest, most vicious storms and hurricanes imaginable. His link is a large raven named Richi.

Alpha Heliodor

Heliodor

Heliodor is a marlen. He is one of the ten alphas, and leader of pack six. His mate is Beta Amethyst. He is roughly the size of a draft horse. His wings are distinctly of peregrine origin and his body and form are wolf-like. He has avian talons on his hind feet, and his tail can fan out for flight or fold down when he isn’t using it. His coloring is mostly russet and dark grey. Along with all the other marlens, Heliodor fled humans long ago and went into hiding because of a vision they had that frightened them. He is far from pleased when Morgan and Roden find their hiding place and interrupt their solitude, but he soon takes a liking to them. He is especially fond of Morgan, and the two of them form a bond. However, it is not until the end of the book that he submits to linking with her. Heliodor is wise, fair and knowledgeable, as well as playful. However, at the same time he can be a little cantankerous and aloof. He often gives Morgan sage advice, while at the same time exhibiting feral, inhuman behavior. This reminds the reader that he is not a pet, but a sentient and lethal being in his own right.

Magic: All marlens are creatures of air and earth; they are the guardians of this type of magic for the whole world. They are otherwise known as Eld Creatures. Their tools of magic are built into them: they use their voices to activate air magic and their hearts are made of their power stones for earth magic. Heliodor’s heart is made primarily of the mineral beryl, variety heliodor. All marlens are named for their power stones, just as human mages are. Like Morgan, Heliodor’s field in earth magic is Animal Communication and Location.

Master Nuala (Sage) Skymist

WK-Nuala

Nuala is the elderly mage charged with taking care of Morgan while she’s in hiding. Nuala is near seventy, but eccentric and unusually spry for her age. She is a tiny woman with long white hair and beady black eyes. Strong-willed and feisty, she is not someone you would want to cross, as she always manages to get her way. Nuala judiciously lives by two mottos: “freedom above all else,” and “tea fixes everything.” She loves Morgan and thinks of her as her own daughter, seeing as she never had a husband or children of her own.

Magic: Like Morgan, Nuala is a mage of mixed elemental magic. She has the magic of Eldemere and of Norbane (water and air). Her abilities in air took her as far as Sky Mist. She did not pursue it further because her true passion was in the water magic of healing. She is an herbal healer and the addition of water into her herbal remedies activates her power. Her link is a female duck (a creature of air and water) named Suak.

Hazel

WK-Hazel

Hazel is Morgan’s best friend growing up, and a citizen of Norbane with no magical abilities. She has a gift for herbal healing and often assists Nuala in her work. When Nuala is summoned back to the University, Hazel goes with her so that she can learn to become a true healer. Hazel is a practical, down-to-earth girl. She has sleek brown hair and sharp brown eyes.

Prince Adyn (Adonyss Elestor Ramier Norland IV)

WK-Adyn

Golden-haired and blue-eyed, Adyn Norland is the much-sought-after crown prince of Norbane. He is an outgoing, slightly spoiled young man and, like most royalty, used to getting what he wants. Despite this, he is a truly likeable person. He meets Morgan at the beginning of the book and becomes intrigued and instantly infatuated with her. Unsure of how to take this, Morgan keeps him at arm’s length, but he is undaunted in his pursuit of her and makes his intentions clear. He is a man who hides nothing. He has never had to work for much of anything before, which is one reason why Morgan intrigues him so much. He learns the painful lesson that sometimes you don’t always get what you desire, even if you work hard for it. Over the course of time, Adyn makes the transition from spoiled boy to rational leader of men. This transition is helped along by his love for Morgan and willingness to change, and culminates in his sudden ascension to the throne.

Princess Corinne Norland

WK-Corinne

Princess Corinne is a sheltered, although sharp individual. Flaxen haired and blue-eyed, her life is one of frivolity and femininity. It is obvious her ladies in waiting think of nothing but fine dresses, getting a husband, and the politics of court, but there is an implication that Corinne could be something more if she applied herself. At sixteen, she is still young, and even more immature than most because of her sheltered upbringing. There is a stark contrast in maturity between her and Morgan, seeing as they are both the same age and yet act so differently because of their situations in life. The contrast is further defined, as she is so materialistic and well-bred, whereas Morgan puts no value in such things and is clearly better-suited to the wild.

King Adonyss Elestor Ramier Norland III

and Queen Felicity Norland

Adonyss and Felicity

King Adonyss is a golden-haired lion of a man. He is a wise and benevolent ruler of his people and their safety is always forefront in his mind. He is a kind man, but prone to impatience and sudden tempers. The slaughter of his people weighs heavily on his mind and it upsets him that he is unable to do more for them as their king.

Queen Felicity is a pillar of resolve. There is little that can faze her, and she takes everything in stride. Flaxen-haired and dark-browed, she is the epitome of a well-groomed lady. She is unafraid to challenge her husband, when necessary, and does so with poise. Adonyss sometimes complains about this, and they often bicker, but it is obvious they love one another and he respects her opinion.

WARNING: The next guy is a total spoiler. If you like at all to be surprised by things, don’t read his bio.

Keeper Emer

Keeper Emer

Deceptive and cunning, Emer keeps to the shadows for almost the entire book. He is only hinted at once, near the beginning of the story. The reference is meant to make the reader wonder at it, but eventually forget it was even made until he shows up again. He is a back-stage puppet master. His power lies in his ability to manipulate from afar, seize on opportunities, turn them to his advantage, and control people’s minds with his twisted form of Keeper magic. He is Morgan’s father, although he has no particular attachment to her. He is of standard height and build, with shocking red hair and green eyes. He relies too heavily upon his past successes and his ability to deceive using magic. This overconfidence is what eventually seals his fate, seeing as no sane man would take on three powerful mages and a marlen all by himself. As for his motives and goals, those will become clear in later books. He has only just been introduced.

Magic: Emer is an earth mage with a specialty in the field of Animal Communication and Location. His power stone is the mineral beryl, variety emerald. He has discovered a new, twisted form of keeper magic that enables him to deceive the minds of others and make them believe whatever he wants them to believe.

Belydor the Dragon

(Image to come if I ever get around to finishing it)

Belydor is the human-hating, miserly old dragon who lives in the North Lands—or so he appears to be. Mostly coal black with an underbelly and accents of pure gold, he truly is a creature of terrible beauty. Hating humans is a bit of an exaggeration, although he has never sought to correct the assumption. In fact, he encourages it. His feelings toward humans are somewhat complex, and can best be described as academic. By rights, any humans who happen upon his land are his to command, kill, or do with how he pleases. He has seized on this opportunity to do an experiment of sorts. He keeps a human farm in the North Lands and uses it to conduct his studies. His goal is to determine whether humans are actually noble and brave, or if at some point all of them can be reduced down to their basest forms just to stay alive. It is his hope that at least some humans can retain their dignity in the face of death, but has met with no success as of yet.

Magic: Like marlens, dragons are creatures of eld magic. They are guardians of all magic on earth that is of water and fire. Although not mentioned in the book, but hinted at, his specialty for water is ice. Fire doesn’t have specialties (much like air), only levels.