A Letter from the Mosevin

Continuing the “Letters from Namora” series, in which Fourteen Stoness people introduce themselves and their world.

This is a letter from the archives of Valdena Filtraikas, a woman who rises well beyond her own expectations and will play a pivotal role in the futures of two nations. In this letter, she is a young student (mosevin) at the viduris, the priests’ training school in the Namoran town of Paret. She is writing to a friend during the summer holidays.


Raimaté, mosevin Ribas,

What do you think of that greeting? I hope it makes you laugh; I couldn’t resist it. Dear Ribé sounds so dull, but Peace be with you, fellow student…I like it! And soon – I hope, if we survive the viduris – soon we’ll start all our letters with our official titles. I can see your letters to me. Raimaté, Zhinin Valdena

I can’t send you this letter today; I’m going to have to copy it over tomorrow, and hope my handwriting is better then. Today my hand barely wants to hold the pen. Yesterday, you see, my father said, “Now you’re home from that school, you can make yourself useful,” and he had me spend the day helping him finish all of the shirts he had to have ready for his customers this week. You wouldn’t believe how many shirts! Ribè, I honestly think we must have made one for every single person in Paret. At least one. I’m nowhere near as fast at sewing as Da, he can work so fast you can hardly see the needle, but I basted and hemmed cuffs and collars all day, and I think my hands might never be the same again. Of course I’m glad Da is such a good tailor, but I’m also glad I won’t end up doing it too…that is, like I said, as long as I survive the viduris.

But that’s enough boring business. How are you? How is Lida village? I’ve been thinking about you so much since the term ended – yes, I know that was only a week ago – and I had to write to you today even though I’ll have to write it again. I’ve been thinking about you being back home, and how good it must be to be there again, when I know you were looking forward to it so much. I’m wondering how things are on the farm, and how your mother and brother are, and whether your brother is as much of a handful as ever. I feel as if I already know your mother and Gedrí, even though I haven’t met them. And the farm too: I think I would recognize it if someone took me there and dropped me blindfolded in your orchard. (And wouldn’t it be funny if they did!)

I wish, you know, that I could be as happy about being home as you are. But then, you could say I never really left it to come to the viduris, since Da and I live right here in Paret. And…well, I probably shouldn’t say it, but I think you already know I’d rather be with you and Nila and Matvé and Andrí than at home with Da. Once I got used to things at the viduris, as long of a time as that took, it started to feel much more like home than home ever did.

I miss you, Ribé. And I wish the summer wasn’t so long, and that it wasn’t almost three whole months until Rudua when we’ll all be back. You said I would have to come visit Lida and see everything for myself. I’d love to, but I don’t know if I’ll ever persuade Da. He has funny ideas, and he doesn’t like the idea of me visiting a boy. (It doesn’t matter that you’re my best friend. If you were a girl…but there you have it.) Maybe, if your mother writes to him, maybe she can do something, but I’ll try not to hope too much.

In the meantime, though, you can write to me, and I can write to you, as long as Da doesn’t make me work on too many more shirts. And there’s Rudua to look forward to. It’ll get here sometime.

I should stop for now. Da is calling and I probably have to help sweep out his workroom. After he’s been working all day, you should see the bits of thread and odd scraps and corners of fabric all over the floor, like a snowstorm.

Write to me soon. Yours,



For more about Fourteen Stones, its world, and its people, please visit the book’s page.

You can get your own e-book or print book from my publisher, or if you’re in the US, a signed copy directly from me: email kfaatz925@yahoo.com for details!

Please consider subscribing to the blog to receive future letters and posts.


GNU Terry Pratchett

A friend recently asked me what book(s) I would “un-read” if I could, to get to discover them all over again. This is one of them: Going Postal by Terry Pratchett. (Yes, it might be time to invest in a new copy. 😉 )

As you can see, I’ve read this book a lot. A serious lot. I’m not sure exactly how many times, but it came out in 2004, and I think I first read it in 2007, and it’s probably been once every couple of years on average since then. I would love to be able to read it again with new eyes: I remember how much fun it was to get lost in the story for the first time. At the same time, it’s one of those books where you notice something new with every repeat visit.

Pratchett is one of my great writing heroes. I’ve read all of the Discworld books, most of them many times. I have a bookcase of which two shelves are nothing but Pratchett. A friend introduced me to his writing about twenty years ago now, and I quickly got hold of everything I could find. At first, I read them just because they were fabulous stories and I loved getting lost in them. When I started learning about writing craft, it became something a little different.

When I’m reading, sometimes I’m “just” reading to experience a story. Other times, I try to read like a writer. What is this author doing? What makes the story tick? I try to get inside the magic and deconstruct it a little. It never hurts to study someone else’s tricks.

I started studying writing craft around the same time I first read Going Postal, back in 2007. When I tried to read Pratchett like a writer, I gave up pretty fast. There’s just so much to it. Such a brilliantly multifaceted fictional world. So many characters, all of whom you get to know over the course of one book or several. Plotlines that are never a single line, but a bunch of them interwoven and masterfully spun out. As you read, events unfold before you can begin to figure out where they came from or how Pratchett got there: and they work, every single time.

After ten years or so of learning about writing, I got to the point where I could look at his YA series, Wee Free Men and its sequels, and start to understand what he was doing in each of those books. They were a little less complicated.

My favorite of the YA series

I’m still trying to wrap my head around the others. Every so often, I go on a Pratchett kick where I re-read a bunch of the Discworld books. I seem to be starting one of those now. As I read, I keep trying to get a handle on how he does what he does, how he creates these amazingly complex puzzles in such a relatively tight space…and I keep losing track of the intricate craft in the sheer delight of the storytelling. I don’t know if I’ll ever really manage to deconstruct them. I wish I could see an early draft of Going Postal, or any of them really, to compare to the published version. Maybe that would help. (It would also help a lot to know that even he had to fix things along the way!)

Meanwhile, his work is a big touchstone in my library. Though I write fantasy too, it’s very different from his, but his work always challenges me to think about how I can be more precise, more specific; how I can do multiple layers of work in a single scene; how I can bring in threads of plot and have them work together without getting lost in endless verbiage. I don’t know much about how he creates his magic, but I can see a little of it. It gives me something to aim for.

If you’re already a Pratchett fan, you probably know what the title of this post is about. 🙂 If he’s new to you, and you’re curious, read Going Postal. The answer is there, and more importantly, you’ll be glad you did.

As always, thank you for visiting the blog. If you’d like to receive regular updates, including new installments of the “Letters from Namora” series, please consider subscribing!

The Bounds of the World

A “Letter from Namora” video, featuring Galvo Dendraikas, one of Sostavi’s political movers and shakers.

Read the original Letter from the Council

To find out more about Fourteen Stones, and get your own copy, please visit the book’s page. If you’d like regular updates from the blog, please consider subscribing. As always, thank you for visiting!

The Real Sostavi

A reflection on the trip to Spain that inspired Fourteen Stones. My memories of Cudillero, the real town that became Sostavi, capital city of Namora.

The first thing I feel is what I wouldn’t give to do that again. We can’t have exactly the same experience back; if Paul and I were to go to Cudillero again, or to Noia to see the castros, or any of the other places we saw in northwestern Spain, it couldn’t be exactly the same as it was in the summer of 2015. But I can’t help but think that the same magic might still be there to meet us.

Cudillero, on the coast of Asturias. That’s the place we were able to imagine spending a week in, instead of a single night. The town with its houses clustered on the slope that ran down to the harbor. They were like crystals in formation. In the morning, we walked along the narrow streets, too narrow for a car to drive, threading from one level down to the next. The houses were tiny and bright: bright whites, vivid turquoise, raspberry-pink, butter-yellow. There were window boxes overflowing with color. Each of the rooftops made of undulating terracotta tile.

Down at the harbor: the turquoise water, the smell of salt. The sea in Spain seemed wilder and lovelier than it is here, except maybe along the coast of northern Maine. The bustle of the town: shops and businesses open, the little plazas, the voices and footsteps. That morning, Paul met a Romani accordionist and the two of them improvised together, Paul on his clarinet. They had very little common language, between Paul’s English and Alex’s Gallego; my Spanish couldn’t do much to translate. But they played, skirling and dancing lines, the two instruments’ melodies weaving in the bright morning.

The taste of bread. The shops so close together, intimate as hugs. The rich yeast scent of a panadería, timeless with its baskets hanging on the walls and bread piled in bins, modern with its refrigerator offering soft drinks in bright bottles. The long golden loaf of bread with its hard crust and soft white center, poking out of a brown paper sleeve. Tearing off pieces to eat as we walked across the sunny plaza to the nearby church. The shouts of children playing soccer and the ring of the ball against ground and sneakers. The intense whiteness of the sun on white concrete. The cool darkness inside the church.

It was nothing like home. And yet it woke my imagination and gave me dreams that came to life in a story, and to a part of me, it is home. What I wouldn’t give to go back and see it again.

Music-making at Cudillero harbor


Excerpt from Fourteen Stones, chapter 14:

In the sun, Sostavi Harbor was a spread of turquoise crowded with fishing boats and the pleasure craft of the city’s wealthy. Above the water, on the hillsides, the light turned the city’s buildings into clusters of white crystals. Ribas breathed the fresh cold air off the water and remembered why coming here had been worth it. […]

When he was eighteen, he’d had to come to the coast to see for himself what Kenavi had seen, what she had gone out to meet, when she walked into the water to offer herself to the old gods. He had seen the ocean in pictures and read countless stories and texts about it, about gentle Kenavi and rebellious Klaya both, but Ribas had still had trouble imagining those “fields of water” and believing in the power and authority of the gods of sun and wind and water.

When he saw the ocean, he understood. An infinity of water stretching away to the horizon. Waves rolling in, rearing up, crashing against the sand in a heartbeat huge enough to belong to the whole world. The size and power of it all took Ribas’s breath away. He had wondered, many times, what Kenavi had actually felt on the day she decided to lay her life down. The stories all said she did it with pure courage and self-sacrifice, to earn the reward the old gods had granted her. Ribas himself had always thought she must have felt afraid, even if only a little, even if she didn’t want to admit it to herself. When he saw the ocean, when he stood on the sand and let the wind tug at his clothes and rake through his hair, he knew he had been right. She must have been afraid, but she had also given herself to that water gladly. She had walked forward into that enormity and let it swallow her. In that moment, she had felt joy. Ribas knew it because he felt it himself.

Now, after he and Maryut and Gedrin took in the harbor, they went back up into the heart of Sostavi. Shoulder-to-shoulder houses and shops lined the narrow cobblestones streets, so close together you couldn’t see daylight between them. […] Some buildings had third and even fourth floors added: you could see the join work that linked new stories to older ones, like stacking books in a pile. Houses on top of houses, weaver’s shops with grocers above, wine sellers perched above jewelers. The shade of the buildings felt like a burrow.

It was Tretdina, Third Day, which at home would have meant a quiet village square as everyone went about their usual business. Here, people seemed to have time to run in and out of shops, gather in groups to chat, stop to buy apples and roasted nuts and tea from vendors with their carts and baskets. To Ribas, it felt like market day in Lida, except the market spilled into every street.

[For more about Fourteen Stones, including purchasing info, please visit the book’s page. If you’d like to receive regular blog updates, please consider subscribing. As always, thank you for visiting!]

Letters from Namora

These last few days have been a little hectic, so I’m shamelessly borrowing from myself for today’s post. You might have seen some of my recent “Letters From” series, in which some of my favorite Fourteen Stones characters are featured here on the blog, in their own words.

These letters are new content, rather than excerpts from the book. I’m having fun coming up with them every week, spending extra time with the people I’ve come to know so well and sending more “threads” of the story out into the world.

I’ve also been working on turning the letters into short videos. Learning Canva – still a work in progress – has been a good challenge for a media Luddite like me. So today I’d like to share two of the finished products, which I’m pretty proud of.

Please enjoy these two very short trips to Namora. 🙂 If you like them, please feel free to share this page or the video links!

A Letter from the Zhinin

Read the original Letter from the Zhinin

A Letter from the Orchard-Keeper

Read the original Letter from the Orchard-Keeper

To find out more about Fourteen Stones, and get your own copy, please visit the book’s page. If you’d like regular updates from the blog, please consider subscribing. As always, thank you for visiting!