Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Broken Laptop

My laptop is broken so I'm going a little crazy. I can only handle hand-writing for short periods of time so I started sketching out cover ideas for the work-in-progress trilogy. I like the minimalist look right now. I hate typing on a tablet, bit that is all I have to post with right now. This is the first time I've posted via mobile device and it's a huge pain.

I also sewed a couple of dresses for my daughter. I'm most amused by this one...

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Snippet Sunday: Mayfly Requiem

Do you still remember that spring we found the nest of baby birds blown down by the wind? They died in our hands, naked, vulnerable, infinitely fragile. I cried for days. Such precious life, created and snuffed out in hardly an instant. When we were children, time ran by too fast, but now we are ancient and every day is a slow crawl toward an indeterminate finish line. Our neighbors, our friends, our lovers have become those baby birds. Their lives are fleeting, but that does not make them any less precious. They are meaningful and beautiful. We used to be, but now I am the living damned and you are a breathing, clouded myth. We have nearly faded from all memory, but here we are, alive and forgotten. I like it better that way. It is quiet, tranquil except for my remorse and the ticking, the constant reminder I have of my servitude. The quiescence gives us the opportunity to be... well, be a little bit human. I wouldn't exchange it for anything at all. Except, of course, the opportunity to undo my final mistake as a Time Child. What have I done? What horrors have I brought upon myself and the world? Dia, I'm just as terrified and bleak as those dying baby birds, and as fleetingly fragile.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Six-Sentence Sunday

Bethel was universally respected even as his sons were reduced to nightmares suffered by wayward children. It was the same for us everywhere and I never became acclimated to the automatic assumption that I was to be feared. I certainly was a fearful creature, but when you tell your children to stay away from the spindly little boy from the forest, you are working a little too hard at inciting the rage within that spindly little boy. I was just a kid, after all, no more mature or developed than a Drey or a human ten-year-old. I learned early I was something to be feared and those early whispers and rumors have clung to me through the years. People create their own monsters, and it's hard not to become what everyone wants you to be when they push your inner nature to overtake your mind.
- from Sand into Glass, Book 1 of the Emergence Trilogy (Book 6 of the Malora Series)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Order and Chaos

I am often asked the intended reading order for my series. Some people choose to read Mayfly Requiem first, but frankly, it can be a little difficult if they haven't read the trilogy first. Lani is a narrator with a lot on his mind and a sometimes-archaic vocabulary. When you've read the trilogy first, it is easier to see how the history and characters fit together in the overall scope of the world. The series is still enjoyable when read out of order (except the trilogy, which wouldn't make sense out of order), but your perception of them may be altered.

None of my books fit neatly into the epic fantasy genre. There are no dragons, vampires, elves, or werewolves, no absolute good or evil. I merge elements of philosophy, dystopia, and superhero fantasy with memoirs, adventures, and hostile takeovers by ambitious leaders. I create my own creatures such as the winged scavenger rychan, the forest guardian ketrow, the jungle-dwelling aerfen, and the civilized and fox-like Tenjeri.

The recommended order of reading is as follows:

1. The Abyssal Night (Echoes of Oblivion #1)
2. Shards of Chaos (Echoes of Oblivion #2)
3. The Shattered Veil (Echoes of Oblivion #3)

The Echoes of Oblivion trilogy is the story of two brothers, one whose ambition may destroy the world and the other who has always been caught in a shadow but still searches for a light. Meanwhile, the Geophorians, a culture of priests with superhero-like powers, is being systematically exterminated because of a culture of fear created by the older brother and his ancestors.

Mayfly Requiem is the prequel to the trilogy and reveals several intersecting characters and historical events (the creation of Ganebra, the Mage Wars, and meetings with younger versions of Lucienus, Tordian, and Faraban). It is the confession of a fallen immortal named Lani, a Time Child sent to Malora along with his twin to act as a sentinel for the Elements. Since this book covers 2,500 years of Lani's history, it can be a bit unwieldy, but it is much more manageable when viewed as a series of short stories, each depicting a different era in Lani's life.

Shadows of Absolution takes place about sixty years after The Shattered Veil. It is the story of a young woman who thinks she has nothing left to live for and how the Time Child Bethel helps her find a purpose. I describe it as a post-apocalyptic epic fantasy adventure and occasional coming-of-age love story. The love story aspect is quite unconventional, but I'll let you discover why on your own.

I have three more books in various stages of writing and planning to follow the first five. They make up a loose trilogy spanning 4,500-5,100 years after the original five books and the first should be out in 2013. Each book is told by a different character in three consecutive generations of post-human Malora, now called Melor. The first is told by the glassmaker Arden, the troubled youngest son of Bethel. The second is told by Tesji, an awkward elemental mage on an adventure while his dreams call for destruction. The third is told by the reclusive light mage Zella as Oblivion begins to wake.

The work-in-progress Emergence trilogy is:

1. Sand into Glass
2. The Crystal Lattice
3. Arrow of Entropy

I'll leave you with that for now. My laptop is in need of repair for a loose power jack so I'm about to be briefly sidelined again.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Free to Good Homes

Because this too-warm autumn air is making me a little bit crazy and my readers are awesome, I've decided to run a pair of books as free promos this week. Shadows of Absolution and Mayfly Requiem will both be free to download Wednesday through Friday, October 24-26! So, download them, read them, and leave me a review on Goodreads or Amazon to let me know what you think. I've been neglecting my wordy babies in favor of a teething human baby lately so I could use a favorable kick to get me back on track.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Six-Sentence Sunday

“I turned our father into an anxious hermit, convinced a Thulan to transcend, and physically injured an Element, an Element who still carries a scar on his face as a reminder of me. I reached adulthood on the winds of the raging Marglor before being thrown into the abyss of Lumeinar to be tended by a monster. I wield a pair of black glass blades forged by Aumua himself. Give me ten minutes and I'll go upstairs and retrieve them. Don't harass me, my dear brother. If I can do such damage to immortals, what do you think I can do to a half-Mero, half-Aulor Emergent who has nothing but illusion to defend himself with?”
-Arden Masiona to his brother, Theron, Sand into Glass

An 8-year-old painting from one of my acrylics phases.

I feel like I've been slacking off lately, but perhaps I haven't. My creativity has momentarily spun away from writing and into more tangible media. A couple of lovely crafting projects completed and some reading done and I feel I'm ready to venture back into Malora. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Toddler Puppet Theater

Sometimes my creativity spins off in odd directions and I feel compelled to jump into the vortex after it. Yesterday, instead of writing, I created a puppet theater for my kids. They "helped" by dumping toys and Duplos/Megablocks all over the floor and pulling the cables for the recording equipment out from under the couch, so the basement is fairly trashed for these pictures.

I started with a large but narrow box, duct tape, and a utility knife. After cutting off the flaps, cutting a window, and taping on triangles cut from the flaps for the roof, and reinforcing the center seam with the section cut from the window, I ended up with this:

The top and bottom were left on for stability.
Top view of the roof supports.

 I wasn't sure at first what to cover the box with, but then I found a roll of wood grain patterned contact paper.

I covered the front and sides with the contact paper. Unfortunately, contact paper doesn't stick well to cardboard, so I ended up taping the edges down with packing tape.

The two long-side flaps were reserved for the roof. I taped them together on both sides since one flap on it's own wasn't quite wide enough. The roof was then taped down to the supports.

Next up was shingling. I first cut 12 pieces of felt into shingle shapes, 4 per felt sheet.

 The shingles were glued down in an overlapping pattern.

Completed shingle layout.
 I contemplated how to decorate the theater and decided to cut shapes out of felt. Turbotot thinks clocks are cool, so instead of a window on the gable, I made a clock. The sides are decorated with a sun and a shooting star, which you'll see later.

The curtains are a cheap satiny pillowcase cut in half along the seams. I stapled and pleated it along the upper edge of the window. It was done upside-down so the edge and staples don't show once it's upright and the curtains are hanging down.

 Flipped upright and with the curtains tucked in the window, it looks like this:

Finally, I was ready to add the last touches. I stapled ribbons to the sides of the windows to tie back the curtains. The felt flowers were stapled on before the yellow center was glued. They look nice and hide the unsightly corners of the curtains.

And there we have it, a toddler-sized puppet theater made from a cardboard box, contact paper, a pillowcase, felt, tape, glue, and staples! I tried to get a picture of Turbotot in it with one of his puppets, but he had more important things to do.

Side detail. It wasn't dry yet when I took this, so there is some glue showing.

Side detail.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Coconut-Chia Pudding

I bought a bag of chia seeds at Trader Joes today to experiment with. They are rich in Omega-3s and easier to digest than flax. Other health benefits are explained here. My first test with them is this simple pudding, which turned out great. I'm waiting for Turbotot to get home to see if it's toddler approved. The chia seed creates a gel when it absorbs liquid, which makes it great for making a no-cook pudding.

Coconut-Chia Pudding

1 15oz can of coconut milk (1 1/2 cups)
3/8 cup chia seeds
1/4-3/8 cup agave nectar (or honey if you're into that sort of thing)
1 tsp vanilla

Stir together all ingredients until smooth. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours before serving.

Variations: add cocoa powder or fruit purees. For a raw pudding, blend together the water and jelly from a young coconut and use it in place of the canned coconut milk.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Web

The Web is the deity hierarchy of the Malora universe. There are fourteen primary Elements and many minor ones. Humans cannot see or interact with most of the Elements, but Tenjeri and some members of the Aulor-descended races can.

A note on Elemental merging: It would seem the Elements are inbred, and in a way, they are. This is often found in world mythology. 

“The Elements of the Web are not people, Velocity,” Verity explained. “They are Elements and merging for them is like creating new colors by blending paints and pigments. Inquisitive child, there is nothing sinister about that when it pertains to the immortal Elements." - from Mayfly Requiem
The Web

Eryagloris (Stars) - One of the center points of the Web, Eryagloris is thought of by Lani as more paternal and caring than the other Elements, possibly because he spends more time watching humans than the others. He manifests as a pale man with indigo hair and eyes. Temple city is Starfall.

Aucra (Time) - Eryagloris' mate is constant and unforgiving. She holds grudges for eternity and occasionally plays games involving mortals. She manifests as a young woman with red hair and gold-flecked blue eyes. Like Lani, her voice is rhythmic and verging on monotonous. She is often seen not as Eryagloris' equal, but above him and at the very center of the Web. Temple city is Meridian.

Omalara (Ocean) - Daughter of Aucra and Eryagloris. She is as turbulent and changing as her element, and can slip from kindly to raging in response to a touch of wind or cloud that is not to her liking. She often chooses to manifest as a water-toned Watersinger. Patron Element of the Mero and all mariners. Temple city is Wavecrest.

Aumua (Desert) - Son of Aucra and Eryagloris. Arden Masiona describes him as "Aumua crept into my mind like lingering sand after a swim in the ocean." Aumua brings a cloud of sand with him wherever he ventures and can transcend space in a similar manner to the Aulor Bethel. He is the patron of glassmakers, and has taken several mortals on as his apprentices. He is the creator of Dunewind and the Vin people, is the co-creator of the Thulan, and has a tenuous alliance with the Marglor (sand spirits). He manifests as a sandy-haired, tan-eyed man who cannot escape his cloud of dust and sand. Temple city is Dunewind.

Rima (Sky) - The androgynous child of Aucra and Eryagloris can become male, female, or anywhere in between depending on mood. Rima manifests as a slight person with long blonde hair and blue eyes. Rima's Kiedran equivalent is Palas. Temple city is Skyspire.

Affaji (Tundra) - Son of Aumua and Omalara. Affaji generally dislikes humans and holds a great hatred for Rassa, but he greatly respects Bethel. He created the Tenjeri and is able to interact with them, and later with the Masai. He employs winged wolves (Grikashk). He manifests as a tall Tenjeri with white hair and silver eyes, and the sound of bells follows him. Temple cities are Northwinds on Malora and Trieskel on Rikulon.

Velatari (Rain) - The son of Rima and Omalara is universally described as "boring" by anyone he has come into contact with. However, he is the focus of the epic poem Sing to Samiaya, the most acclaimed piece of Tenjeri literature in the world. He has been referred to many times in the Malora Series, but has yet to make a physical appearance. Temple city is Palmshore in the southern rainforests of Kira.

Maldalo (Plains) - Also known as "The Lifegiver", Maldalo is the daughter of Aumua and Rima. She is the bringer of the harvest and the patron Element of the nation of Maritor. She manifests as a human woman with golden hair, rich brown skin, and blue eyes, hearkening to the wheat, the soil, and the sky. She often walks the fields of Maritor, unseen by humans. Temple city is Fruithill.

Samiaya (Aurora) - Daughter of Rima and Eryagloris. Samiaya is beautiful, but elusive and inaccessible to many who prefer a warmer climate. She manifests as a teenager with bright, color-shifting hair. Temple city is Icelight.

Aksuvian (Mountains) - Son of Rima and Maldalo. Aksuvian is gruff in manner, but generally harmless unless you venture too close. He manifests as a middle-aged gentleman with gray hair and eyes. Patron Element of the Baku and the Drey. Temple city is Nighthollow.

Faloway (Forest) - Daughter of Maldalo and Velatari, twin to Sepitira. Faloway walks the forest much like Maldalo wanders the plains. She is jealous and unforgiving of those who maim her trees. She harbors a long-standing feud with Affaji. She has not yet made a physical appearance in the Malora Series. She is the patron Element of the Efi. Temple city is Moonhaven.

Sepitira (Wetlands) - Daughter of Maldalo and Velatara, twin to Faloway. Patron Element of the delta country of Anor. She has not appeared in the Malora series. Temple city is Reedwater.

Metalis (Rivers) - Daughter of Aksuvian and Maldalo. Metalis deeply loathes Bethel and advocates his death. She has not yet made a physical appearance in the Malora Series. Temple city is Riverbottom.

Uadiamore (Sound) - Son of Velatari and Samiaya. Uadiamore manifests as a chestnut-haired, dark-eyed young man (not the silver-complected infant depicted in Sing to Samiaya). Like Affaji, the sound of bells follows him. Temple city is Cascades.


Paradox - No one is sure where Paradox came from. He is a mate of Rima and has been imprisoned by Aucra for many eons.

Kairen (Metamorphosis) - The androgynous trickster child of Rima and Paradox. Kairen usually manifests as a color-shifting creature vaguely reminiscent of an owl, but has been known to take human form to procreate with humans. Kairen makes a game of influencing people and even Aulors to do things they normally wouldn't. He is often imprisoned by Aucra, but just as often escapes or survives his own execution.

Taiga (Boreal Forest) - Son of Faloway and Affaji. Patron Element of the Masai following his release from Aucra's Elemental prison. Affaji claimed there are over thirty Elements on the Web, but little has been revealed of the outliers beyond the core fourteen.

Sebelra (Oblivion) - The sleeping abyss is the counterpart of Eryagloris and Aucra, the void between the stars. He sleeps on unaware of his own existence while the universe grows and shifts around him. Sebelra is the only thing Aucra truly fears, especially now that he is on the edge of waking from his calm dream world. Bethel long-believed that Oblivion's soul lived in Rassa, but Affaji confirmed Bethel's assumption as an error, so the abyss still sleeps for now. When Oblivion wakes, the universe will know.

Laatulya (Redemption) - this fallen Aulor is the guardian of the Evergreen Abyss, the underworld that receives the souls of the damned upon their deaths. Laatulya appears as a heavily scarred young man in a ragged robe. His physical condition depends on how recently Aucra has repaired him. He is frequently abused by Aucra to the point where many of his senses are stripped away, but his mind is still mostly intact. He is tasked to relive the crimes of the damned along with them, but he has never been very good at his job.


Aulors - Time Children, the human-like offspring of Aucra and Eryagloris. They are the sentinels of the Web, sent to the world in human form to watch and interpret between cyclic cataclysms. As of the beginning of Arrow of Entropy, six Aulors have been named. They exist only in pairs, and are biologically immortal, locked in time as young adults.

Morazend - Wind spirits, volatile and vicious. "The Morazend are infinite in number, the zephyrs on the wind. They are the ones who howl through the trees and against the windows during storms. We shall not invoke them either, for they are volatile and wrathful." - from Mayfly Requiem. There is one example in the series of a Morazend soul in human form.

Thulan - The Phoenix is believed to be the offspring of Eryagloris and Aumua. Only one exists at a time and the Thulan can be born into any sentient race. Examples have existed all across history and have been included as characters or referenced in every book of the Malora Series. Upon a great upheaval, altruistic action, or turning of events, the Thulan becomes self-aware and transcends into an elemental form. The Thulan dies in this form and is born again in a new body. The Thulan's primary responsibility is to illuminate the world, either through destruction or through bringing light, depending on what is needed.

Velador - "The Velador are the children of water, a trio of many-fanged creatures concocted by Omalara, Velatari, and Metalis to avenge any who might unjustly fall dead into the waters of the world." - from Mayfly Requiem

Monday, September 10, 2012


I was going to post something yesterday for Snippet Sunday/Six Sentence Sunday, but I am perpetually time-lost and can never remember what day it is. This is a bit from my work-in-progress, Sand into Glass. Aucra is one of the central Elements, the deity Time. The narrator, Arden, is not immortal, but is from a long-lived race descended from Aulors. He is hearing-impaired (deaf on the left, and at this point in the story, only possesses partial hearing in his right). 

I wandered into the corner and out of the range of Ikuren's voice. Aucra sat on my cot. She wanted so horribly to see her prize tainted, to see his teetering foundation crumble under the tremendous weight of his own memories. I was no prize, no trophy, no champion for her. I couldn't redeem myself, but I could vex her until my end.
“You are going to lose this fight,” Aucra said. She smiled smugly and twirled a strand of hair between her fingers.
I flopped on the cot and laid my head on her lap. She stroked my hair and I smiled up at her. I whispered, “My life is a waste except for a single moment bracketed by two shimmering stars. Even if I only have one wonderful moment every four centuries, I will hold onto that and it will keep me safe. A spring rain, a desert night, a swinging pendulum, a ticklish child laughing as I try to put shoes on his feet. I focus on the light I can find, and if I can't find it, I create it. I created two tiny stars, and even the one who was short-lived burned far brighter than you ever will.”
I sat up and pressed my right ear against Aucra's sternum. Her heart was steady, unchanging. She was clockwork, but I wondered if her gears were made of glass or of metal. If she was glass, I could reshape her. I felt the buzz of her voice in her chest. I had no idea what poison she whispered to me and I didn't care.
“You present yourself young and beautiful,but you are neither," I said calmly. "You are Time, as old as the universe, and as twisted and deceitful. You are responsible for far more murders than I am. You are the worst mass-murderer in all the universe. Every single living thing falls to you eventually, and you savor it, drink up every bit of that death and then piss on the next generation while waiting for it to come of age so you can drink again. While you're waiting, you take little sips and kill off the young and the infirm to keep your appetite from fading. You are a murderous abomination, and it's no wonder you have fallen in love with someone just a fraction as loathsome as yourself. I will leave your love unrequited, because I am better than you. I do not kill for my own entertainment. No matter what, I am better than you, and I will win. Watch me win.”
Aucra continued to stroke my hair and I fell asleep in her arms. She was still there when I woke from my nap, but she refused to speak with me. I appreciated that, and daresay, celebrated it. It is not often a mortal renders Time speechless.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Arrow of Entropy

Sometimes my muse strikes out of order, especially when I have limited time during kid naps and am heading into a complex chapter in my primary work-in-progress. When in doubt, listen to the muse. I take a lot of notes, and this is one of them. It likely won't stick as the opening of Arrow of Entropy, so consider it a teaser for the trilogy.

When I was a little girl, I often crept out of my bed late at night to walk along the shore of Ara. I never ventured to the beach during the day because I hated being surrounded by an endless mass of swimmers and sunbathers, but at night it was perfection. The stars and moon reflected off the water and the cool, white sand embraced my toes as I meandered along the shore. I breathed in the rhapsody of the ocean, the salty mist and churning foam thrown by endless and chaotic waves. No one knew about my midnight walks, not even my twin. We looked the same when we were young, but we never fully trusted each other with our secrets, even before the Aulors came into our lives.

I share a kinship with the water through my Mero ancestry and with the fire because my father is the Thulan, the only Thulan in all of time to survive his own transcendence. However, above fire and water, I am tied to light. I can manipulate it, control it, make sunlight my own and force it to surrender to darkness. I used to prefer darkness to light because it kept my own flaws from becoming illuminated, but not anymore. Not since Oblivion awoke. Now I choose to remain bright.

-Arrow of Entropy, Book Three of the Emergence Trilogy.

Giveaway Party!

Me in New Orleans, July 2011
In July, I gave away three paperback copies of Mayfly Requiem, and in August I gave away two copies of Shadows of Absolution. To finish up three months of Goodreads giveaways, I am going for the big one for September.

I am giving away one complete set of the Echoes of Oblivion trilogy (The Abyssal Night, Shards of Chaos, The Shattered Veil). The contest starts tonight at midnight (September 5) and ends on September 30. These are the books that kicked off my entire series, and I don't plan on doing any more giveaways until the Emergence trilogy is released, so don't miss out on your chance to win!


    Goodreads Book Giveaway


        The Abyssal Night by Courtney M. Privett



          The Abyssal Night

          by Courtney M. Privett


            Giveaway ends September 30, 2012.
            See the giveaway details
            at Goodreads.

      Enter to win

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


I often look to the stars and try to take the entirety of the universe into my thoughts, but it is too much and I become overwhelmed even before leaving the galaxy. Watching the night sky is examining deep time, stretching on for billions of years, encompassing billions of stars, trillions of planets, infinite possibilities. It is deep space, the rarity of a star surrounded by oblivion, but that oblivion is so vast that the presence of a star is not a rare thing at all. A nebula appears frail though a telescope, but it is held together by the constant strength of gravity, and within its gaseous bonds is a natural drive to create. Beauty within beauty, order masquerading as chaos. So much of the universe is like that, frailty belying incredible strength and resilience. Sometimes the inner strength is so powerful that even something small can tear apart worlds and entire star systems. It is easy to admire the endless black of oblivion and define our place in the universe as insignificant and fleeting, but I'd rather look to the stars, their immensity shrouded by distance and time, and define us as meaningful. We were once supernovas and nebulae, beauty and power without equal. We were born of stars and in death and the final destruction of our world we will return to them. Let's not strive to be black holes in the meantime. Let's illuminate the world instead of darkening it, instead of tearing it to pieces. Let's prove we are worthy of being forged by stardust.

This is something I wrote for book 3 of the Emergence trilogy, Arrow of Entropy, and I think it is the narrator, Zella, speaking to Rassa. I'm not officially writing it yet, but I've taken a few notes as I'm working on book 1, Sand into Glass. Book 2 is already complete, though it will need some minor rewrites and a couple of rounds of editing.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Nearly-Taciturn Tuesday

Here are some shirts I made for my daughter today.

I'm trying to regain my momentum after a week-long trip to the north and the illness which chased it. The Goodreads giveaway ended last night, so I just shipped out two paperback copies of Shadows of Absolution to the winners. It has been a rough couple of weeks, so that's all for now.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Melor, According to Arden

I'm going to reveal a little of the world-building for the Emergence trilogy, but I'll turn this post over to Arden Masiona, narrator of Sand into Glass, because he is more familiar with the subject than I am. I'm just his transcriptionist.

So, first of all, I've heard you're all a bit stuck in the past. That's okay, I'm used to that from my father. He's been around for something like 7,600 years now, so the world has changed significantly. I'm not sure just how old he is, and neither is he anymore, but I don't think it really matters since so much time has passed.

The advantage of having an Aulor as a father is I learned a view of history that no one else in Melor knows. Melor was once called Malora. It became Melor after a series of events which reshaped the land and left most of the population devastated. Life was rough for a while, but like the Thulan, we rose from our charred remains and learned to thrive.

I was born in the Yolane Forest and spent most of my childhood there. We traveled a bit, so I visited the Masia land of Matalore, the western city of Stixa, and most of the cities and villages in between. The Efilon Wilderness is quite desolate, and most of the population of Melor lives east of the Athuals. 

I was educated in Dunewind when I was an adolescent. Where is Dunewind? Well, that is complicated. It's in the Marita Desert, but the city moves on Aumua's whim. It is the home of the Vin, and I was the first non-Vin there in milleniums, since the fall of Ganebra according to Aumua. I'm not really supposed to talk about Dunewind much, but I will say that is where I became a glassmaker.

The races of Melor are diverse, but most of them are descended from humans. Isolation, Elemental influence, and Aulor blood fractured humanity in only a few generations. I suppose I'll list some of the different races for you, starting with the two in my own blood.

Aulor - Okay, I guess this isn't a race at all. Aulors are elementals, Time Children. There are supposedly always two in existence, but I only know of one, my father. The other is a mystery, a rumor spread by a couple of Efi obsessed with learning ancient lore. I asked my father about the second, and he confirmed he has a counterpart, but he refuses to tell me who it is. Aulors are biologically immortal. They can be killed, but they don't age or catch illness. Mages only have a single focused skill, but Aulors can have several. My father has a chameleonic complexion, can transcend distance, and his words have power. I don't know what the other Aulor can do because I know nothing about him. Or her, who knows...

Efi - This is my mother's race, but I wasn't raised among them, so I don't act like a proper Efi. Efi are notoriously flaky. They are the self-described forest guardians of the Efilon Wilderness, which makes up the entirety of central western Melor. They are calm and pleasant enough, but you cut down a forest or slaughter animals around them, you are in for trouble. They've been known to berserk on occasion if the crime against nature is great enough. Most of the time, they're perfectly peaceful, though. They mature slowly and generally take everything at a leisurely pace.

The Efi are descendants of two different Aulors, and this has drastically altered their lifespan and maturity rate. An Efi is considered an adult at 60 and they can live 500-600 years, so they age three times slower than humans until they are adults, and then their aging slows to a rate at least six times slower than a human. Most of them never reach their maximum lifespan because they are prone to accidents and animal attacks. Physically, Efi are imposing, though not as much as the Toli. They are taller than humans and lithe of build. Most have black or blond hair and light eyes, but there are exceptions. Dark eyes run in my mother's line (mine are hazel), and brown eyes and hair run in the Watulya Efi, though they are rumored to be mixed blood.

Mero - Mero are the second race descended from Aulors. They are water-dwelling people who live in the ocean of Ara. Not much is known about their culture, but they are rumored to be the most technologically advanced race in the world... and also rumored to not actually live in the water. Mero have a cultural problem they readily acknowledge. There are far more women than men, so the men take multiple wives. The women are offered a chance to go on shore for a period of time once they reach adulthood. Most never leave the water, but some come on land, marry outside their race, and bear children before the addiction to the water overtakes them and they abandon their families to return to the sea. Mero always have red hair and water-colored eyes (blue, gray, or green). They are human-sized in stature, but their lifespans are comparable to Efi.

Baku - Baku are the mountain guardians of Gainai, a nightmare parents give their children to get them to behave (I've heard I hold that same honor). They are slight, rock-complected people who are rumored to be cannibalistic. No one is bold enough to venture into Gainai for fear of being killed and eaten. I was astonished when my father told me they were his descendants through one of his daughters. I'm assuming the Aulor blood gives them lengthy lifespans, but there is no way I'm going to track one down and ask to confirm it.

Toli - Toli are the largest of the human descendants, and they make their home in the rainforests of Tolaran. They are about a hand taller than the average Efi, and bulkier. Their hair and skin come in a variety of blues and greens. They are physically intimidating, but their manners are generally jovial and they are quite peaceful. They pride themselves on their practical jokes. A few deviate from their culture and become competitive fighters. They have lifespans of about 400 years, but they are not Aulor descendants with the exception of a few who descended from the two children my father had with a Toli woman a couple of centuries ago.

Drey - I have to think for a moment to figure out what to say about Drey that will not negatively impact your opinion of them. They certainly aren't all bad, but I've had some bad experiences with them. Drey are about half the height of Efi. Their coloring is as jewel-toned as the rocks they mine and their eyes always match their hair in color. They often claim mining-related surnames. They live along the Athuals on both sides of the divide. They are possibly the most violent race of Melorans, though they have calmed down over the past few centuries in an effort to maintain trade relations with the Efi. They are obsessed with gems and justice. There are many Drey mages, but it is extremely rare for a Drey to become an Emergent, though they often harass my father to attempt coaxing them into transcendence. Their maturity rate is comparable to humans, and they live only slightly longer, maybe 100-110 years. I think their stature and lifespans make them resentful of the taller, longer-lived races.

Human - I am a little reverent for humans because they were the origin of the rest of us, but I still feel sorry for them. Modern humans are the people who were left unchanged after the fall of Ganebra. They are strong, hardy, resilient people, but they only live 80-90 years and have short childhoods. Most humans live east of the Athuals, but there are large communities of them in the west, too, especially in Brandeis and Etresca. They are quite friendly with Toli, Drey, and Efi, but the races rarely mix and half-bloods are outcasts in most places except Vanora.

Non-human races

Masai - The Masai are a race of pointy-eared, pointy-toothed, long-tailed creatures recently relocated from the continent of Rikulon. Their faces and bodies are fairly human, but their attitudes certainly are not. They pride themselves on being efficient hunters and competent athletes, and are guided by the Elements Affaji (the Tundra) and Taiga (Boreal Forest). They live 200 years and mate for life. My father has made no secret of the Masai being his favorite people, and several of their mages have become his Emergent students.

Inga - Some call this race dryads. They are western tree people, once called myth, but proved real when they ventured from the forests after the fall. The village of Stixa is home to a small community of Inga-Efi half-bloods. Both the Inga and their half-blood children are shy, and I know little about them despite my brief time in Stixa.

Vin - The children of the Desert and the Wind are known by so few in Melor that most would think I'm making them up if I spoke about them. They are the winged residents of Dunewind, and a little bat-like.  They prefer their privacy so haven't made their presence known to the rest of Melor. They were created by Aumua.

Elements - The Elements fashion themselves as deities, and most revere them as such and refer to them collectively as The Web. I know better. They are nothing but powerful beings who spend most of their time residing on another plane. Sure, they are the creators of almost everything we know, but they are also arrogant things that take pride in playing games with mortals. They occasionally procreate with mortals, stick Elemental soul like Aulors or Thulan into the children of mortals, or toss new races into the world. Some Elements are perfectly pleasant and tolerable, others are awful. You probably shouldn't tell anyone I said this about them. It's best to let people keep their fantasies about deities for now.

Gourdlings - Avoid, avoid, avoid! These fat little forest creatures work in pairs or small groups to mesmerize people and lure them into their caves, trees, and hovels. Once there, they make their victims sing, dance, tell stories, or otherwise entertain them. When they finally release the victim, the victim finds years have passed and they have aged along with their lost time.

Kiraksgard - My father assures me the great bear people of the far north are not a myth, but I don't believe him. Maybe they were real once, but if they were, they've been lost to time.

There are many other races and creatures in Melor, but I don't know enough about them yet to describe them to you. Satyrs, watersingers, tromkas, chiva, rychan, gigantic mushrooms that will eat you if you get too close. Melor is a strange place, and my father told me it is far stranger than it used to be.

I suppose I'll go back to telling my story to my transcriptionist now. She's quite patient with my outbursts and I appreciate it. I have a story to finish, then I'll turn her over to Tesji and Zella so they can tell their stories and complete the trilogy. I look forward to sharing my world with all of you.

But, I need to warn you first...

You're not going to like me.

Giveaway! Shadows of Absolution

I'm giving away two paperback copies of Shadows of Absolution this month, so head on over to Goodreads and enter the contest! Contest ends August 21.


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        Shadows of Absolution by Courtney M. Privett



          Shadows of Absolution

          by Courtney M. Privett


            Giveaway ends August 21, 2012.
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Wednesday, August 1, 2012


I've been sketching a couple of my characters over the past several days. I wasn't sure where this one was going at first, but I soon found myself staring at the troubled, androgynous Dacibrega. Daci is a twenty-six year old mage Bethel rescued in Amanor six years before the start of Shadows of Absolution. However, Bethel was not prepared for the reality that Dacibrega never wanted to be rescued. He was a willing sacrifice, and never considered the possibility of a life beyond his twentieth birthday.


When he finally emerged, he was a different person. Dacibrega was his new name, and metal, especially mercury, was his element. He was not so different from the Aulor – ever changing, never staying in the same form for too long. He was a shifter before he emerged, but after, Dacibrega no longer had control over his transitions. Dacibrega was as trapped by his own form as the Aulor was, and that reality alone was enough to lessen some of the Kiedran's bitterness. The Kiedra were abandon at their very cores. Maybe Dacibrega would eventually learn to cling to something other than his undue hatred for the Aulor.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sketchy Sunday

I used to have decent drawing ability, but my movement disorder put an end to it. These are some older sketches I found in the garage. Most of them are characters from The Crystal Lattice. I took photographs of them because the scanner isn't plugged in, so I got some weird glare.

Bralt, the Efi Emergent paladin (The Crystal Lattice)
Lirana, Efi teacher (The Crystal Lattice)

Hrenba, the queen of the Baku (The Crystal Lattice)
Safora Nightwolf, the human bard (The Crystal Lattice).
Terali, the narrator's infatuation (The Crystal Lattice)
Ravaki Thula, the half-Efi Emergent mage (The Crystal Lattice) 
Kith the Vin Thulan from Sand into Glass. This is a quick sketch I did tonight.

Saruza and Bethel, post-The Shattered Veil. Quick sketch I did tonight.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Character Interview: Holly Thula

I've been wanting to interview another Shadows of Absolution character for a while, but it's a challenge to interview one of the four main characters without revealing too much of the story, because their pasts are so tied to their presents and the plot. I was originally planning to interview Dacibrega, but he's shy and doesn't like to talk about his transitions so he refused to speak with me. When Dacibrega declined, Holly Thula decided to entertain me instead. He's always been rather talkative, so I actually prefer his chattering to Dacibrega's short answers and stunned silence.

Good afternoon, Holly. I find you fascinating and I'm glad you decided to join me. First of all, could you tell me a little about yourself?
I was born in Efilon fifty years ago. Don't look at me like that. I've been told I look more like early twenties, but don't let my looks fool you. Everyone in my family ages slowly. Not just ages, matures. We take a little too long to learn how to do anything when we're kids. Sets us up for a casual life, really, if you're not like me. I hope you forgive me for not shaking your hand. I can't touch anyone. Suck the energy right out of them, you know? Can't help it, can't control it, just something nasty I was born with and it's gotten worse as I've gotten older. I'm kind of the personification of Despair. It sucks, but I can't do anything about it so I just had to learn to live with it so it didn't break me down.

You come from an interesting family, don't you? What are they like?
Well, my father's the former Crown Prince of Ganebra, you know before it fell. Aridani Thula. He founded Efilon after the fall, but he's kind of irrelevant now. Don't tell him I told you that. He's my opposite and kind of my balance, so he could withstand my touch longer than anyone else except for his father, Bethel. Bethel's an Aulor, a Time Child, and doesn't look much older than me even though he's a hundred or something. He's great and I've been travelling with him for a little while because he's the only one left who isn't afraid of me. My mom was named Lore Naron. I look more like her, blond hair, light eyes. She had a memory talent, never forgot anything she heard. I'm the youngest of five kids. I have three sisters - Haven, Lavender, and Willow - and a brother, Sage. We're not exactly fond of each other. I think they're resentful of my existence, because everything went to the abyss when I was born. I have two aunts and a bunch of cousins on my father's side, but I only met some of them a couple of times when I was a kid. My mom didn't have any siblings and her parents died in the fall, so my family is a little unbalanced.

You must have had a difficult childhood since you were unable to touch anyone.
Very. It was frustrating and lonely. Little kids don't know about personal space, and it took a lot of scolding to convince me not to touch people. I wasn't allowed to go to school or parties, and barely even allowed out of the house. My siblings made a game of telling me how much I screwed up their lives. My parents were great, but they couldn't hide their sorrow. Just their Despair. I think you've noticed you feel a little melancholy this close to me? Sorry about that. I'm not doing it consciously and I'm keeping as much of it drawn into myself as possible so it doesn't make you feel worse. Well, everyone else can feel it, too, and the whole town was afraid of me. They were always looking for an excuse to exile me, and I finally gave them one when I was forty-seven.

What happened when you were forty-seven?
My mom died. She had been a little ill most of her life, at least since I was born, but she lived to be a respectable age. Of course it was all my fault and I still have nightmares about her reaching forward to kiss me. The Efilon council immediately voted to exile me. My dad was the only dissenter, but no one really listened to him anymore so it didn't matter that he defended me. Well, it mattered to me, but not to anyone else. I knew I needed to leave, so I would have gone even if they didn't force me to.

Where did you go after you were exiled from Efilon?
East to Ara and the island of Liefen. I visited my Aunt Solace to see if I could join her Mero, but she couldn't come near me and was afraid of me. Her council voted to get me as far away as possible. There was one person who voted to let me join them, but I don't know who it was. Anyway, they were nice enough to give me a little boat, so I followed Bethel's energy pattern and met him on an island off southern Rikulon. He took me in, so I've been living on his boat, the Chulanlir, with him, Dacibrega, and until recently, Saruza. I like it. It's peaceful, no one glares at me except Daci, and the water gives me most of the energy I need. Turns out, I die if I don't absorb enough external energy, but the scavengers try to eat me first and then I end up eating them and living. I can consume moving water so being on the ocean helps and it dampens my aura drastically.

Is Bethel afraid of you like everyone else seems to be?
If he is, he hides it well. He can touch me a little still, because he is way stronger than everyone else and has a little energy to spare for me. He's been trying to teach me how to control my talent, but we're failing so far. We have time. We've just been sailing around gathering evidence to see if there are any Tenjeri left in the world. Haven't found any living Tenjeri so far. Saruza was probably the last, but Bethel wants to be sure of that. I think he's too busy internally panicking about his kids growing old and dying to think about being afraid of me. And the voices... I know he talks to people who aren't there, people I can't see. Ghosts or whatever, but it's creepy, and since he's and Aulor, I don't know if he's insane or actually talking to someone.

Do you have any hobbies?
Sure, have to pass the years somehow. I am a pretty good musician and composer. My dad was a musical prodigy, and I guess I inherited some of that. I paint, knit, crochet, and sew. Useful and necessary when you have to make or repair everything yourself. I'm the cook for the Chulanlir. Daci hates that. My father's people are all vegetarians because they're going for this whole nature guardian, non-violent approach to the new world. Bethel's been vegetarian since he was a kid, too. Saruza used to cook meat for Daci, but since she's gone now, he's stuck with my food. He's too stubborn to learn how to cook on his own, so he just complains to me about it.

So you don't get along with Dacibrega?
Oh, I do, as long as I keep a sense of humor about him. He's gotten better even in the months since I met him. I think he's trying to prove to me that he's not useless. Failing, but the effort is worthwhile. He takes me way too seriously and gets confused about my jokes. I like him, though. He's a resilient little thing, coming through what he did and still working on undoing the damage his own people did to him.

What is your greatest fear?
Accidentally killing someone I love. And, my problem getting so big that no amount of energy can sustain me, but the scavengers keep dropping by to keep me alive. I know I'm getting worse, so it's possible. I don't want to hurt anyone.

What is your greatest dream?
It's so simple, so mundane to everyone but me. I want to touch someone without hurting them. I want to know what real physical contact feels like without the threat of my soul interfering. A kiss and a cuddle in front of a fire on a cold winter night. Just an impossible dream. I'll never get to have that and I can't even imagine what it would really be like, just an idea. It's been decades since I cuddled up with my father without hurting him, and he's the only touch I can remember aside from Bethel's little butterfly taps on my forehead he uses to recharge me. It would be wonderful and so different if a touch came from someone outside my family, someone who could touch me without fear of being hurt. Can't have that, though, and I need to stop talking about it because it will just throw me into another breakdown.

Sorry, I didn't mean to upset you. What do you have now that makes you happy?
Bethel and Dacibrega. We have our spats, but they try to ignore my problem in favor of getting to know me. I love the ocean. I think I'll spend the rest of my life sailing, because it gives me a little bit of control I can't find anywhere else. I love creating new things, whether it is music, art, textiles, or food. Since I'll never have a family of my own, it's my only method of creating something new and entirely influenced and nurtured by me.

If you were marooned on an island, what three things would you like to have with you?
I'm starting to think I might go that route. Finding a nice, quite island and living out my life alone there. It would certainly be lonely, but it's better than hurting people. Well, to answer your question, first of all I'd bring the obsidian dagger my uncle Onyx made me. That thing is sturdy and can cut through anything. Second, I'd have to steal Bethel's library. I'd leave him with the books in languages I can't read, and take the rest. Not sure on the third, probably an instrument. Something durable if I don't have a lifetime supply of guitar strings, and I have no idea what my lifespan is, so that could be a lot. Maybe a metal xylophone so I can give the birds a little concert.

Where are you heading now?
Back to Malora. Bethel is going to see to my Aunt Thora about borrowing one of her rangers so we can find a mythical city. Ridiculous, but it's something to do. I'm sure someone will write down this adventure. Oh, someone already has? Prophetic, huh? Anyways, the wind is picking up so I'd better go see to the steering. You don't have to pretend not to be afraid of me anymore.

The adventures of Holly, Dacibrega, Bethel, and the ranger Isen are written and published in Shadows of Absolution.