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!


A Letter from the Farmer

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


Write a letter, my brother says. Letter? I say. Letter about what? I don’t do that kind of thing. Haven’t in years, not since my wife Virta and I got married and she moved out here to the village. She used to live in Paret, you know, which is the only thing like a city around here. Back then, of course, we did write to each other. Now I’m out of practice.

My brother – that’s Ribas, the zhinin, you met him – he says that I should talk about life here in Lida. Anything you want to say, he says. So that people will know why they should come and see it for themselves. I point out he wrote about Lida already. (I saw that letter of his, and you should take my advice: when he says he doesn’t have a gift with words, don’t listen.) He says, Your take is different from mine, Gedrí. Just try it, will you?

When your brother is older than you and used to taking care of everyone, you don’t have a whole lot of choice when he asks you to do a thing. (He’s also a know-it-all, but nobody else had better say so, at least not in my hearing.) You can argue with him how you like – and believe me, I know how to argue – but it slides off him like straw off the end of a pitchfork.

So. My take on Lida.

Well, I’ve lived here all my life. The farm, which belongs to me now, was my mother’s. You’ve met her too. Ribé and I were born there. The old house is where my family and I live, but to me, the fields and orchard are home. When I was a little boy, Mama and Ribé between them could hardly ever get me to sit down and do dull inside things like mending and scrubbing. If there was any outside work to do at all, digging or weed-pulling or fence-patching, I’d be out there in even the worst weather, usually lugging tools practically as big as I was.

I’ve never worried about winter…

I’m not much different these days, grown though I am, with two children of my own. When Virta married me, she didn’t know much about farming life. I’ll tell you, anyone would be proud to see how she’s taken on the work and learned to love the open spaces, the earth underfoot, the rhythms of plowing and planting. Me, I never did imagine doing or being anything else, so you could say she had to take me as I was or not at all. Some days I look at her, in one of her plain working dresses that she’s embroidered with the kind of fine work she always loved, and I wonder all over again that she decided I was worth it.

What else about the village? If you visited here, you’d have to have a meal at the Sheaf and Barrel. That’s the inn, the only one we’ve got, and we don’t want for another. The innkeeper, Seldo, is an old friend. He’s also one of the two best Capture players in the village – as I should know, because I’m the other. Since you aren’t from Namora, I don’t suppose you know how to play Capture. If you did, though, I’d say you should join one of the matches that go on at the inn some quiet winter evenings. People bring their own boards and pieces and play whoever wants to challenge them. The inn fills up pretty quick, with players and those watching the games and passing cider around. Things usually end up with me and Seldo in a drawn-out battle. Those are the best kind.

I’ve managed to go on a pretty long time here. Seems to be enough to satisfy my brother – though now he tells me I might have to write another letter sometime. I’ll tell you, he knows how to make a nuisance of himself.

For now, while I can, I’ll sign off. Yours,

Gedrin Silvaikas

A Letter from the Council

The next in our series of letters from Fourteen Stoness people. Here, a member of Namora’s governing Council introduces himself and Namoran politics.


Galvo Dendraikas, at your service. I am a sventin, one of the seventeen members of Namora’s ruling Council serving our leader, the Tavin. I have been here in our capital city, Sostavi, for many years. You could say that when it comes to the braided, woven, and often simply tangled life of our leadership, I am as near expert at following and parsing those threads as one can be.

You wish me to speak of Namora’s government. On the surface, it’s simple indeed. Our Tavin is the head of Namora, presiding in Sostavi’s Great Circle House. You have heard from my colleague Ribas Silvaikas, who spoke of the life of a zhinin in a small village. As Zhinin Ribas is to Lida’s Circle House, so the Tavin is to Sostavi’s Great House, and therefore to all of Namora. We seventeen on the Council support our leader and assist in all decision-making and intricacies of government.

So far, so simple. But you might be able to imagine that where seventeen come together to discuss and debate, simplicity quickly vanishes into a mist on the edge of memory. Of course, not all of my colleagues would agree. Some would say the term “mist” is misleading. Others would speak of the treachery of “memory.” Still others would contend that “vanishes” is far too dramatic. And so on: I believe you understand.

For me, navigating the dance of Sostavi politics has been a life’s work. I have had little else: no marriage, no family, few real friendships. Once, many years ago, I did have a close friendship I valued very much. My own actions put an end to that, which remains a source of lasting regret. I have shared the details of that with two people only, and will not repeat myself here – at least not now.

I come from Laiva, the capital city of Namora’s Pajura region. The move from that city on the coast to Sostavi, which is the city on the coast, felt quite natural to me as a young man. I believed Sostavi would be familiar. It was not. In splendor, elegance, and sheer busyness of life, no other place can rival our capital. The Great House, which, some believe, is where our Goddess Kenavi lived as a mortal woman, has no equal among the many Circle Houses throughout the country. My first years here were a slow process of finding my footing, while hiding my confusion and presenting the right face to the world. In the end, I was rewarded with this place in government, which is all an ambitious man might aspire to.

At least, it’s all I did aspire to, when I was young and believed I knew what mattered. As I have grown older, I have come to find – often to a return of confusion, and sometimes regret – that life has more shadings than I knew.

Namora is a beautiful place. The most beautiful in the world, many of us would hold. Although, in fairness, many of us have seen little of the world apart from our own towns and cities. Few are curious about what lies on the other side of our little country’s boundaries. There are some exceptions, and I, in my steadily advancing age, am proud to number myself now – I was not, as a young man – one of them.

I wish to know more about the world. I am glad, in fact, to know that there is more “out there” than I once imagined or cared about. I would like to learn about other places and people. Surely, a lifetime of navigating Sostavi politics is useful training for other complex weavings. Many of my colleagues on the Council do believe that the world is simple, in that Namora is the center of it. With however much time is left to me, I wish to challenge myself to see more clearly.

I have spun enough words here for the time, so will close. Yours in the peace of the Goddess,

Galvo Dendraikas


[For more about Fourteen Stones, its world, and its people, visit the book’s page. Please consider subscribing to the blog to receive future letters and posts.]

A Letter from the Orchard-Keeper

In which Fourteen Stones‘s matriarch introduces herself. “Orchard-keeper” is only one of her titles, by no means the most important – but she will tell more.


My name is Pelayut Silvenis. You’ve met my elder son Ribas, who is the zhinin of our little village, Lida. He is the caretaker, so to speak, of all who live here, and many who are linked to us by threads of all kinds. In a village this size, where everyone knows everyone else, each of us has a particular place. I am the apple-grower.

In truth, my younger son Gedrin has charge of the farm now. He and his family care for the trees as well as I could; as well, in fact, as his great-great grandfather, my father’s grandfather, who first planted them, and who set each seedling into the ground as gently as an egg into a nest. That was long before I was born, but I remember my father’s stories. The orchard has been our family’s work and delight for five generations. I suspect Gedrí’s children, Raulin and Asira, will make it six.

Time often seems to leave a small place like Lida behind. In many ways, the village looks the same now as it did some forty years ago, when I was a girl coming to the eighth-day markets with my father. The square is unchanged. The Circle House, our place of worship, looks much the same as in my earliest memories; although the building behind it is much newer, built since my son’s time as zhinin. He is the reason that trainee priests now come to Lida: many want to apprentice with him. The rhythm of the village itself is perhaps a little quicker, a little busier, than it was when I was young, but the quiet current of it moves along as it always did.

That isn’t to say that nothing changes here. My memories are full of change. I don’t often speak it, especially of the darkest time when I was a young mother, but when I look back along the path of my own years, sometimes I find it hard to recognize that much-younger woman. She lived through a great deal. I could not survive those things again. I wish, for her own sake and the sake of her boys – Ribas was six then, Gedrin only a baby – that when she saw the darkness coming for them, she could have stood up to it. Protected her children. They deserved it, and so did she.

But she survived it – I survived it – and I am still here. My sons are grown, both of them good men. They are very different, so much so it’s hard to see they’re brothers. Ribas – Ribé – has always been quiet and studious, even before the dark time that shaped him so much. Gedrí is active, eager, rushing. My husband died when Gedrí was much too young to remember him, so he always looked to his older brother as a kind of second parent. Ribé and I had our hands full with him, to be sure, but he was sunlight when we found our way out of shadow.

Now I am the elder orchard-keeper, still at work, though slower than I once was. I live here on the farm with Gedrí and his family. Every spring, as I watch the trees come into fragrant bloom, I think of their strength. How firmly their deep roots grip the soil. No matter how cold and dark the winter comes down, and no matter how their beauty fades and withers with the old year, they stand strong until the sunlight comes again.

Now I will close this letter, with my thanks for lending a silver-haired woman your ear. Yours in the fellowship of the Goddess,

Pelayut Silvenis


[For more about Fourteen Stones, its world, and its people, visit the book’s page. Please consider subscribing to the blog to receive future letters and posts.]

A Long and Winding Road

Last week, I posted about how my book Fourteen Stones arrived “in the ink,” and how I got to see it for the first time. The best feeling.

We did it! 🙂

Book publishing is a strange game. In the writing process, you devote yourself for months or years to something that exists nowhere except inside your own head. Translating it to the page can be exhilarating and exasperating. It can make you cry, in good ways and not-so-good ways. And sometimes – hopefully often! – it can make you smile.

Then, one day, it’s finished. The story exists on paper. Now what?

For so many of us, the answer is publication. What else can you do with something you’ve devoted so much time to? If other people like it, you must have done something good. So you begin to send it out. Rejections come in, in ones and twos and by the basketful. Roadblocks spring up in front of you.

Time to cry over the book again. What do I have to do? Is this really any good? I did that with Fourteen Stones, many times. Friends assured me the book was great. You’ll publish it, don’t worry. And even, When you do, you’ll never have to worry about jobs again. I don’t know about that second part. But I did, after much searching, luck into a publisher who loves the story as I do.

The experience of publishing Fourteen Stones was entirely different than it was with my first book, To Love A Stranger. This time, there was no “institution” signing off on my work: it was just me and one woman, Jax Goss at the Patchwork Raven, on opposite sides of the world. The project moved along gently. We agreed on edits and artwork. We crowdfunded the first print run: a new idea to me, but it makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Jax and I didn’t have to stick our necks (or wallets) out on an investment we might not recoup.

The first boxful!

There was very little fanfare. No hustling for advance reviews. No leadup to a stressful/expensive launch. With support from amazing friends on both sides of the world, we hit the crowdfunder target, the book went to print, and it was produced and shipped from New Zealand. It’s been making its way to other parts of the world ever since.

During the process, I did sometimes get caught up in “what didn’t happen:” the agent I stopped trying for, the way I let go of the idea of a big publishing house and all the possible clout of “the system.” I asked myself over and over if by walking away from all that, I really did the right thing. Sometimes I was afraid that this book was the best work I would ever do, and that bringing it out in this quiet way would mean it would disappear.

But I don’t think that’ll happen. For one thing, I learned so much by writing it, all of which will go into other books (I hope!) and make them stronger. For another, the care and attention that went into the copies I unboxed last week are exactly what this book deserved. Every moment of the writing process, from first brainstorming to final revisions, gave me great joy. In publishing it, Jax wanted to make something beautiful, and that’s exactly what she did.

Templeton gives Mom’s book two paws up.

And I don’t think it’ll disappear, because it now has a life of its own. Readers will visit my fictional countries, Namora and Lassar. They’ll get to know the people who started out as my creations, but who quickly took off in their own directions, with lives and histories and challenges. For me, the most important thing about sharing Fourteen Stones isn’t what I did as a writer, or what the book is like as an object, but how the story can take flight through the imaginations of the readers it finds. I hope the adventure transports them as it did me.

If you’d like to find out more about Fourteen Stones, you can visit the book’s own page. Also, on Thursdays here on the blog, the story’s people will introduce themselves: that series began last week, with this post. If you’d like to stay up to date with future info and events, please consider subscribing. As always, thank you for visiting the blog!

A Letter from the Zhinin

In which my favorite character from Fourteen Stones introduces himself and his home…


Where to begin? I have no real gift with words, I’m afraid. But I’ve tasked myself with these, and so my stubbornness will have to stand in the place of skill.

My name is Ribas Silvaikas. I am the zhinin of Lida village – zhinin, in your language, I think is best understood to mean “priest,” though it isn’t quite the same. A zhinin can be many things. Sometimes we are teachers and counselors; sometimes we’re healers, to the best of our ability. Always, we are listeners.

My village, Lida, is in east-central Namora, just west of the Senai Mountains. You’ll find it on the right-hand side of the map:

Lida is in the region called Kalnu, which in the Namoran language means “forest.” In my little country, you’ll find, we are quite practical when it comes to names. For instance, the name of Pektkampe, the region just south of Kalnu, means “five corners.” Its capital, Pirkampa, is – you may have guessed it – “First Corner.”

Namora itself derives from our word for home. Our faith tradition tells us that for the woman who became our Goddess, home was the most sacred of sacred things, worthy of any sacrifice. Many of us in Namora, whether we are city-dwellers or farmers’ children like me, feel a deep link to the land itself. The Goddess’s presence lives in it and holds all of its disparate people together.

Without spending too many words at once, from my limited store, I would like to tell you about my village, Lida. As any Namoran will tell you, there are many beautiful places in this country. I’ve seen a few of them myself, particularly when I was younger and better able to travel. Lida is where I’ve lived all my life, and where generations of my family lived before me. Of course, I tend to think it’s the most beautiful place of all.

What is Lida, for me?

Sunrise: the mist lingering in the village square; the light fading from deepest blue to silver-gray to rose and cream. The sound of the birds greeting the morning, at first only a single trill at a distance, a falling note nearer at hand, and then as one voice calls to another, more join in until the air rings. Even in the village’s heart, where my wife and I live, you can hear it. On the farm where I grew up, at the village’s northern edge, my mother’s apple trees are full of song.

The mountains: the peaks of the Senai rising into a blue sky. The Senai are low and rocky, very different from the tall narrow peaks in Namora’s neighboring country, Lassar, but they stand above Lida village like sentries. On a clear morning in early spring, you can make out patches of lingering snow on the peaks, the hunched shapes of boulders, the arms of bare wind-whipped trees.

The air: I’ve been to Namora’s northern coast, and the great capital city, Sostavi. I love the ocean. But there’s nothing like the air in the mountains, the crispness and sweetness it holds even through the warmest days of Vasara, our midsummer. In Lida, banks of mint line the roads that lead from the village center out into the countryside. Mint is tenacious. It clings and spreads. When it’s cut back, the scent hangs sparkling in the air.

The farm: earlier, I mentioned my mother’s farm. My brother and I grew up there, as did our mother, and her father before her. The walls of the old house are steeped with smoke from generations of hearth fires. Its beams are as strong as stone. The apple orchard my great-grandfather planted is fragrant with blooms in spring and rosy with fruit in Derla, our harvest month. Every time I go back, I feel my roots settling as deep into that place as the trees into the soil.

And last, but far from least: Lida’s Circle House. This is our place of worship, the heart of the village. As Lida’s zhinin, this is my home as much as the house where my wife and I live. I grew up coming to this House, and I became its zhinin when I was eighteen, taking on both the rituals of the place and the life of the village that my predecessor, Zhinin Odilas, tended for so many years. When I was a boy, I wasn’t certain I could – or should – take on that work, but it was handed to me and in the end I accepted it. That’s a story for another time.

For now, I will close this long letter. In this picture, you can see the shape of a Circle House. It doesn’t show the life inside, the details of the hearth and windows, the prayer stones, the vessels of water and salt, but this is the shape of my village’s heart.

Until my next. Yours in the peace of the Goddess,

Ribas Silvaikas


[For more about Fourteen Stones, its world, and its people, visit the book’s page. Please consider subscribing to the blog to receive future letters and posts.]

The Books Have Landed!

I’ve been looking forward to writing this post for a long time. Yesterday, I finally got to hug my brand-new book, Fourteen Stones.

If there’s anything like the experience of seeing your own story – the one you dreamed of, sweated over, adored and fought with, and gave the best of your energy to for years at a time – seeing that story standing on its own, lifted out of your imagination and captured in ink on paper to go out into the world, I don’t know what that experience is.

They’re here…

In other posts, I’ve talked about what Fourteen Stones meant to me. I’ll be posting more about that again, as I try to give the book a gentle nudge along its way. For now, though, I’m celebrating.

It’s a real book!!

This is my second novel. Getting to see it “in the ink” was even better than with my first book. Jax Goss and Will Thompson at The Patchwork Raven did an absolutely amazing job of realizing this dream. Every detail is beautiful: I couldn’t have asked for better.

Just a little happy. 😉

The start-to-finish process with Fourteen Stones, from first draft to published book, took a little over seven years. Along the way, I learned that though I’d started out as a straight-up-literary, “real-world” writer, I loved to work with fantasy and magic. That’s changed the way I write, ever since. Almost everything I work on these days, from 100-word microfiction to my newest novel in progress, brings in a twist of magic somewhere.

First page of the prologue. So pretty!

In this profession, sometimes there isn’t much to celebrate. There’s a whole lot of rejection, and discouragement, and wondering “why did I sign myself up for this??” For me, the process of storytelling, that delightful experimenting and problem-solving, is full of joy. Sometimes, though, you really need a gift. Yesterday was that for me.

All worth it. 🙂

Fourteen Stones is now available for sale, too! If you’d like a copy, there are a couple of different ways to get one.

E-Copies are available on my publisher’s website, here.

Print Copies are also available on my publisher’s website, here, or:

For readers in the U.S., you can buy one directly from me. I have a small supply of them; first come, first served. 🙂 Email me at kfaatz925@yahoo.com if you’re interested!

As always, thank you for visiting the blog. If you’d like to stay updated about Fourteen Stones, upcoming book events and other events, and other news, please consider subscribing!

It’s a Real Book!

It’s getting real! Preorders are available now for my new novel Fourteen Stones, and I’m thrilled to share the cover. Will Thompson, the artist with my publisher The Patchwork Raven, did an incredible job turning a product of my imagination into a beautiful design.

Cover reveal!

The building in this picture is a Circle House. Circle Houses have tremendous significance in Namora, one of the two countries featured in the novel. They’re places of worship, and equally importantly, places for communities to gather and for people to find rest, strength, and hope. My favorite character, Ribas Silvaikas, is a priest who serves in the Circle House of his home village, Lida. From Fourteen Stones:

Back in the square [of Lida village], one building made of gray stone stood out in the cluster of white-painted shops and houses. Its shape made it unusual too: it was perfectly round, with a conical wooden roof whose point reached higher into the sky than any of the peaked tiled roofs around it.

This was Lida’s Circle House. Here, on Pirdina, the First Day of every week, all the villagers came together to worship the goddess Kenavi. No one able to leave their house would miss that tribute. Throughout the week, the House’s doors stood open from morning to night. Anyone in need of the Goddess’s guidance, or quiet time alone in the cool circle of the stone walls, might go in and set down, for a while, whatever burdens they had brought with them.

When my publisher asked if I had thoughts for the cover design, my first thought was I’m no visual artist. 😉 Then I thought it would be awesome if we could feature a Circle House, but I knew I’d never manage to draw one myself. Will Thompson was brilliant at turning the image I’ve carried in my head for years into a real depiction of the place.

This is a sketch that Will worked from: my rough drawing of Lida’s Circle House complex. The blue box shows the relevant part. Like I said, I’m no visual artist.

The Patchwork Raven is a small indie press that handles all its own production and distribution. When I first spoke with Jax Goss, who runs the press, she said she would completely understand if signing my book over to her felt “too rebellious” to me, too far away from the traditional publishing model that a lot of us writers think we have to pursue. I’ll admit, it did feel a bit like going out on a limb. But what mattered most to me was Jax’s complete support for and delight in Fourteen Stones. I couldn’t ask for a better partner in this venture.

Which brings me to the “getting real” part of this post: as mentioned, preorders are now available! The Patchwork Raven is having a PledgeMe crowdfunder to support the first print run. When you pledge to the campaign, you can choose your rewards: an e-book, a print book, a package that includes artwork, and other rewards which we’ll be adding as we go. When you pledge the cost of a print or e-book, you’re preordering your copy of the book, and you’ll receive it in October.

By pledging, you’re supporting me, Fourteen Stones, and The Patchwork Raven. Indie presses are wonderful about championing their writers, giving us fair contracts, and respecting our work. They’re also an essential voice in the publishing world, where traditional presses so often go with “safe” commercial options. Indies give more voices and stories a place at the table.

Interested? Please check out the link below to visit the crowdfunder and make a pledge if you’d like. If you need a little more convincing, I’ve also included a vid of my top five reasons (only a little tongue-in-cheek 😉 ) to read this particular book. Please note: we’ll need all pledges by August 31, to hit our crowdfunder target!

Fourteen Stones crowdfunder link!

As always, thanks so much for visiting the blog. If you’d like to receive weekly updates, as well as Maker’s Day prompts every Wednesday, please consider subscribing. See you next time!