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Monarch Butterfly Natural Preserve, Natural Bridges, Santa Cruz. Photograph Copyright 2014 by Aleksandr Skorobogatov.

Monarch Butterfly Natural Preserve, Natural Bridges, Santa Cruz. Photograph Copyright 2014 by Aleksandr Skorobogatov.

Creating Zaria

Creating Zaria brought me great pleasure. This was to be the land where faeries of my imagination came to life. Closely intertwined is all of nature here. I had the opportunity to show just how easily this delicate balance can be destroyed, causing ripple effects that could lead to more than just the annihilation of a single species.

Butterfly Bush

Throughout Zaria you will find life forms everywhere, and the butterfly bush is a beautiful example. Butterflies are the leaves of these bushes. They fly from the branches and dance around in the air, playing games with each other until they tire. Then they return to rest upon the bare branches that call them back home.

Monarch Butterfly Natural Preserve – Santa Cruz

I found a lovely photograph that gives you an idea of what I had in mind for my fantasy butterfly bush. This one happens to be able to be seen in this world at the Monarch Butterfly Natural Preserve in Santa Cruz during winter migration. Mr. Skorobogatov gave me permission to use his photograph for my blog. Please click here to visit his website. He has such beautiful photography and is an accomplished author as well.

I hope you are beginning to understand the fun I had taking pieces of this world and twisting them to create something even more dramatic in another world. I shared Goodings with you, and now I share my butterfly bush. Zaria has many more unusual and exciting life forms. It is my hope that you will take time to journey through The Legend of Greywinds, eventually making it to Winds of Zaria.

Each land has something unique to offer. So does the world around you. Venture out. See what your own back yard had to offer. Find your own version of a butterfly bush that simply makes you say, “Wow,” like this one does.

May the grey winds guide you and keep you safe.

— Annie M

 

Goodings helping a waterfall.

Goodings helping a waterfall.

The Birth of Goodings

Goodings is a well-known sylph in the Land of Zaria. She is quite striking with her many long braids, oak-laden garments, and watery wings. This young woman prefers to leave the spotlight to others. But do not assume she is weak. Her inner strength will manifest itself outwardly when needed. Much of her time is spent traveling around Zaria assisting inhabitants with their needs.

This part of Yerg is highly guarded and sheltered from the rest of the world. Goodings knows the delicate balance of this land of air can be easily disrupted. She makes it her mission to keep a watchful eye out for invaders who could destroy entire species of this faerie realm if left unchecked for even a brief period.

Eddings/Goodkind

I created this lovely character in honor of David Eddings and Terry Goodkind, my two favorite fantasy authors. She is a combination of Polgara, Eddings’ sorceress and Cara, Goodkind’s Mord-Sith.   Even her name is a tribute to these two writers who inspired me as a writer.

This sylph is connected to Zaria in ways I cannot reveal here without spoiling the quest. She is also part of the Zaria Art Book, a coloring adventure. As you can probably guess, Goodings graces us with her presence in The Legend of Greywinds book 4, Winds of Zaria. Join her and other creatures and faeries beyond your wildest imagination in this land hidden to most.

May the grey winds guide you and keep you safe.

— Annie M

 

Orion in the Forest of Oracles coaxing a black bat plant to grow quickly.

Orion in the Forest of Oracles coaxing a black bat plant to grow quickly.

The Birth of Orion

You simply cannot have a Forest of Oracles without a mysterious Green Man. I love trees. And I wanted a character who shows us that caring for the world we live in is an honor and a responsibility that many of us forget.

This oracle is strong yet gentle, wise yet lets others learn as needed, and is willing to help yet expects others to do their part too. He has many years under his belt and still finds beauty in each and every day. He holds a great secret of which only one other is aware. What could it be?

His Name – Orion

You may wonder how I chose this enigmatic character’s name. Well, it came to me as I was admiring my favorite constellation one evening. I then needed to weave his name into the prophecy that would bring the Chosen Ones and Orion together in time.

Two of a Kind

Arial and Orion develop a relationship unlike any other in the adventure. He is a mentor and friend to this young woman. The Green Man is instrumental in helping Arial to recognize and develop one of her gifts in ways unimaginable to the young Blossom.

Forest of Oracles

An enormous forest surrounds the Forest of Oracles, which sits at the center of the Land of Meena. It is well guarded and virtually impossible to escape if you have not been invited into this magical place. Curiosities abound not only here, but throughout Meena. Journey here and you will gain an appreciation for not only this land, but perhaps for the curiosities that lie within your own world.

May the grey winds guide you and keep you safe.

— Annie M

 

Garam leaving Neroli for the Forest of Oracles.

Garam leaving Neroli for the Forest of Oracles.

The Birth of Garam

Garam is a galuu and lives in the Forest of Oracles in the world of Yerg. Like many other inhabitants of this magical place, his creation was quite deliberate. My love of koalas became the foundation for his physique. Monkeys and chimps have amazed me since I was a young girl, so that element needed to be incorporated as well. A dragon’s tail was the finishing touch to this most adorable little guy.

Our furry friend becomes quite attached to one of the Chosen Ones, leaving them with a decision to make that could endanger his life and another’s. Don’t let his stature fool you. He is quite capable and willing to do whatever he can to help the girls in their quest to solve the prophecy’s riddle.

The person after whom I named this galuu loved to whistle, so whistling as his form of communication made perfect sense.  On one hand, he is childlike. On the other, he exhibits wisdom far beyond what anyone expects. As a reader, you’re sure to fall in love with this hairy little fella. Look for Garam as he makes his debut in The Legend of Greywinds book 2, Land of Meena.

May the grey winds guide you and keep you safe.

— Annie M

 

Arial fishing at a pier in Tana Bay.

Arial fishing at a pier in Tana Bay.

The Birth of Arial

The final addition to the characters on this quest needed to fill a very large void that the others could not. Arial emerged as the young woman who would be connected to land and sea and everything they had to offer. She has difficulty dealing with her height; Arial is so much taller than most girls her age. This teen is strong and very gifted in a number of ways.

Arial is comfortable in her simple attire and carries a small net for catching fish at a moment’s notice.  She rounds out the troupe within The Legend of Greywinds. With this final character, the story can now take flight.

Blossom

You may think that by the time I got to this clan I just chose a no-brainer name. No, that would not be a correct assumption. The clan name of Blossom rose from a two-fold thought. First, many plants grow in this part of Tana. Second, and more importantly for me, Arial would grow in ways unimaginable to those around her. This was wonderful because I now had a hidden meaning to this fifth and final clan’s name.

Lexa is service-driven as are all members of Blossom. This hamlet provides foods of all types to the other hamlets on the island. They are farmers extraordinaire and the same can be said for their seafaring skills. Where on Tana would this clan live? What would their homes look like? What would they look like? How would they dress? Who would lead this fourth clan? How would I introduce Arial to the other girls? Arial uncovers a playful creature along the way, adding a twist to the quest. What fun I had molding this character’s personality.

Creator

I christened the Blossom clan with the badge of Creator. First of all, they grow beautiful plants. Second, they always know where to catch fish when needed. The Blossom see more of Tana than any other clan because they are responsible for delivering food throughout their homeland and those of their neighbors. Creators make up the ranks of captains and crews of all the ships in the world of Yerg. They are one with the land and the sea.

Earth

I had two choices here–water and earth. Water had been taken but that is the beauty of being the author. You can change things around if you like. What did I do? Yes, you guessed it. The element of earth made the most sense for this clan.  No more details.

Gifts and talents that develop for this young woman are amazing. She is a talented individual indeed. Please take a look at the wonder and awe-inspiring personality that lives in this seventeen-year-old. She will amaze you.

May the grey winds guide you and keep you safe.

— Annie M

 

Lexa after meditating by a waterfall.

Lexa after meditating by a waterfall.

The Birth of Lexa

Lexa came to life because I wanted to incorporate the metaphysical world that intrigues me within the series. My definition of metaphysical is phenomena that are outside the average everyday life. Well, this 15-year-old’s daily life has spiritual and mystical written all over it.

She is calm and soft-spoken as you might guess, and is in touch with her inner self. Meditation is part of her life as it is with the others in her clan. Lexa may appear to be a simple character but that would be far from the truth. Her gifts and talents add a special touch to The Legend of Greywinds that only a personality such as this one can provide.

Celie

I found the name Celie on the list that Keira had created for me. After looking it up in an urban dictionary, it described Lexa perfectly. So this became the name of her clan. In addition to the supernatural component, I wanted something less ethereal for the Celie too. They became a group that needed to be covered up during the daylight hours. Lexa’s hamlet is unlike any other in that music fills the air at all times. Celie spread peace, love, and hope through example and music. Where on Tana would this clan live? What would their homes look like? What would they look like? How would they dress? Who would lead this fourth clan? When would Lexa be introduced to this adventure? How would I take her metaphysical side and expand on it? I actually took it somewhere that I had not imagined when I first began developing her character.

Whisperer

Telepathy and the Celie’s ability to enter dreams made the title of Whisperer the logical choice for this clan’s badge. The Celie are so different from their neighbors that at times Lexa feels she does not fit in with the others. Her clan wants harmony for all of Yerg’s creatures. This teen is ready to go out and explore the world outside her hamlet. Due to a sensitivity, this Whisperer’s lifestyle brings a realization to the others on their quest.

Water

Assigning an element to this clan was easy. Water ties in to the Celie habitat; it has borders created by the River of Light and the Celie Channel. Water is plentiful throughout the hamlet. It plays a greater part than I am able to divulge here.  This element also provides protection for their sensitivity.

There is so much to learn about Lexa, her clan, and her gifts. She is a loving young woman. Perhaps you will take the time to read and see for yourself the beauty that I see in this remarkable teenager.

May the grey winds guide you and keep you safe.

— Annie M

 

Jada with scarf in both hands dances to music in the air.

Jada with her scarf, dancing the Tari.

The Birth of Jada

What would The Legend of Greywinds be without a character who enjoys life and is the poster child of curiosity? A whole lot less entertaining is my answer. Jada is a creation of my love for dancing, music, and life itself. She is a character who is unafraid of showing her feelings for those around her. Adding a large dose of innocence allows her personality to be more childlike in nature. That is just one side of the coin for this character. The other side of the coin will remain a secret so as not to spoil parts of this adventurous quest. Just know that Jada is a true diamond in the rough.

Echo

Keira Moon and I decided on this clan’s name after I determined what extraordinary power Jada would exhibit. She and her clan would be known as Listeners, so Echo was a perfect name. That was only the beginning though. What part of Tana would this clan inhabit? What would their homes look like? How would they dress? Who would lead this third clan? What part would Jada and her clansmen play in this adventure? This inquisitive and youngest member of the group gives the others much to think about on their adventure.

Listener

The badge bestowed on the Echo clan eventually became that of a Listener. Their acute sense of hearing goes hand-in-hand with their other gift of communication with animals. As a person who had an assortment of pets, it was imperative that one of the characters be connected to the animal kingdom in some fashion. Their conversations with these creatures holds a twist. A lighthearted clan, the Echo are also accomplished minstrels and dancers. This tribe is quite versatile and a fun group. Assignment to an element was the final piece to this particular puzzle.

Air

The element of air fit perfectly for any Echo. Light on their feet, unusual communication skills, and the ability to hear what others cannot made this choice very easy. Light and breezy also describes their environment and living quarters. Jada’s life is a reflection of the happy-go-lucky people who surround her.

Caution in letting too much out of the bag is a delicate balance, especially with Jada. She is a lovable young woman. I hope you’ll take the time to see what makes this youngster tick. You won’t be disappointed.

May the grey winds guide you and keep you safe.

— Annie M

 

Carena Character Slide

Carena with Adularia.

The Birth of Carena

Although Carena was not the first character I created for The Legend of Greywinds, she was the one I chose to be the storyteller of this saga. After  the creation of  the Protector, I envisioned a clan with the powers to heal. Influenced by my love of stones and my fascination with their meanings, I spent a great deal of time within the pages of The Book of Stones by Robert Simmons & Naisha Ahsian.  More than just a list of stones for me to consider, this book helped me in creating Carena’s character and fundamental beliefs.

Shaylee

Keira Moon, my researcher for names of all things in the world of Yerg, presented Shaylee as her recommendation for this clan. She was spot on. Carena would be part of the Shaylee clan of Healers. As with Fiera, the same questions arose. Where would they live on Tana? What would their environment look like? Who were their leaders? How did they live? What was their purpose? How did they dress? What characteristics were this clan known for? Why were they important to the other clans on the island? Our storyteller and her clansmen carry pouches of healing stones and also works with herbs and plants to heal their people and animals.

Healer

As I mentioned in Fiera’s creation, each clan needed a badge–something others admired as a special gift or talent. I chose to use the word Healer and with specific intent. It would ultimately be a term of endearment–one that manifested itself as my writing continued. Level-headed and appreciative of all she has and everything around her described Carena perfectly. I now needed to connect her to one of the elements.

Storm

On the surface, the element of storm may seem to be the most unlikely connection for a Healer. Yet the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. The need for a Healer in this world is almost always due to devastation caused by a dark wizard and his evil magic. Like a storm, Carena’s life is filled with sudden turmoil and tumultuous situations. This is the world of all Healers who offer their energies to saving and improving the lives of others.

There is so much more about this Healer that I want to share but that would spoil your adventure. She is a sensitive young woman with a lot to offer. I hope you’ll take the time to find out what motivates her.

May the grey winds guide you and keep you safe.

— Annie M

 

Fiera Character Slide

Fiera with Jase, one of her trusty steeds.

The Birth of Fiera

In a previous blog I mentioned that the start of The Legend of Greywinds began with one name. That name was indeed Fiera. I had a name but nothing else. Thinking of only the name, images began filling my head. Influenced by Terry Goodkind and David Eddings, this strong character took shape rather quickly. Her physique was similar to Cara, a Mord-Sith from Mr. Goodkind’s Richard Rahl series. Her character was a blend of Cara and Polgara, one of the main characters in Mr. Eddings’ Belgariad et al. The streak in Polgara’s hair was the basis of Fiera’s own hallmark.

Gelsey

Keira Moon, a wonderful young woman, was instrumental in choosing names for the clans. It took us two days before deciding on Gelsey as the name for Fiera’s clan. Where would they live on Tana? What would their environment look like? Who were their leaders? How did they live? What was their purpose? How did they dress? What characteristics were this clan known for? Why were they important to the other clans on the island? So many other questions surfaced as I began creating this most amazing young woman. I soon realized I needed more and more details and I had to dig deep from within to find the right answers.

Protector

One of the most important factors for me early on in the series, was giving each girl a badge–something her clan was known for and others admired as a special gift. This was to be a major player in the storyline. I chose to use the word Protector instead of warrior. It was imperative that readers understood that Gelsey fought only when provoked or in defense of those who were unable to defend themselves. Creating these Protectors from Gelsey was a great foundation for the other clans. But there was still something missing in my mind. I needed another way to bind these young women together–elements.

Fire

It took little thought as to what element Fiera would represent. As her personality unfolded through my writing, fire was absolutely the only element for Fiera, and also for the Gelsey clan. This association to the element of fire made it easier for me as I developed her character and the story.

There is so much more I could tell you about Fiera but that would spoil your adventure. She is a vibrant young woman with a lot to offer her world. I hope you’ll take the time to find out what she is all about.

May the grey winds guide you and keep you safe.

— Annie M

 

Friday, September 23, 2016 — Well it is 3 am and the packing is almost complete. We make a final check of the room. Our bags are full. Other than disheveled beds, our accommodations look like they did when we arrived. The sunrise is less than three hours away. In order to get to the northern part of the island to witness this incredible sight, we must awaken by 5 am and be out door no later than 5:20 am.

Sunrise on the Island

The sun plays peek-a-boo with the clouds at dawn.

Sunrise near the northern end of Isla de Mujeres, Yucatan.

The alarm goes off and I jump. Our room is black and I so want to keep sleeping. We have twenty minutes to get washed and dressed. I hope this sunrise is worth it. Quietly we walk past the other bungalows to our awaiting golf cart. At the helm is BJ and she is raring to go. We wave to the guard at the hotel entrance as he lowers the chain, allowing BJ the freedom to begin the race to the northern end of the island. The wild woman is at it again. Tope after tope greet us as we make our way to the spot we chose for this auspicious occasion. We are the only golf cart on the road. Come to think of it, there are no cars on the road either.

The Unveiling

Finally we arrive at our destination. Preparing our cameras for this event, we find a place on the rocks to sit. The sun is still asleep. Excitement builds as the slightest sliver of light peeks over the horizon in the distance. It is time to watch the day unveil itself to us. I haven’t waited for the sun to rise like this in many years. Slowly creeping higher and higher above the ocean is what I can only describe as a game of hide and seek between the sun and the three cloud formations that keep us in suspense. We continue to watch until the sun finds its way out from the grips of its captors. What a great way to end this journey.

Mural of the head of a man covered with wonders from the ocean in vibrant colors.

How cool is this? There is art like this all over the island.

Island Art

One advantage to my time in the golf cart is that I get to see the really cool artwork all over the island. Creativity abounds here in the form of murals. It amazes me to see such thoughtful work with each and every painted wall we pass. I hope to return someday and spend time learning about these phenomenal artists and their inspiration for these visuals they share with the inhabitants and tourists alike.

One stop that BJ insisted on making this morning at the suggestion of the psychic she spoke with was Hacienda Mundaca. We barely have any time left, but we manage to get to this hacienda just as it opens for the day. We pay our fee and we move rapidly through looking for what? I have no idea. BJ was told to look for a message. I feel like I am on a scavenger hunt except I am missing the clue. We cover the grounds twice and now I insist that we leave or we will miss the ferry back to the mainland.

Annie standing by the rocky shoreline in Isla de Mujeres.

What a beautiful coastline as the sun rises on Isla de Mujeres.

Goodbye to the Yucatán

We race back to the hotel. The topes have taken their last toll on my backside. These silent policemen will not be missed by me. Our bags sit in the bungalow. We do a last run-through to be sure nothing is being left behind. Even if there is something, it will not fit in our suitcases.

I load the luggage onto the golf cart while BJ is checking us out. She dives back into the golf cart and we head south to the ferry depot. I climb out of the cart and lug all our bags and purses against the walkway to the ferry while BJ returns the cart.

A few minutes later we are back together and we head for the boarding area. Our ferry is docking as we arrive with our gear in tow. We are near the front of the line so our wait is only about five minutes or so. There is no time for a last look until we move away from the pier. I think to myself that this has been a wonderful adventure and how blessed I am to have had the opportunity to see this part of the world this way.

The Party’s Over — NOT

All goes smoothly. The check-in at the Cancún airport. The security takes longer because I forgot to remove my Surface Pro from my backpack before it went through the scanner. We are two hours early so we decide to grab some lunch. I decide to check the departure screen and our flight is now delayed 30 minutes. We are OK. Our connecting flight does not leave for another hour and a half after this delay. I return to the table to let BJ know what is going on with our flight. We finish eating and chat a bit more. This departure screen is once again my target before we head to the gate. My eyes get big as I scan the flight information. Now our flight is delayed another three hours and we have been redirected to another gate. Apparent to both of us is the fact that we will not be home tonight as planned.

Gate Change

We make our way to the new gate only to find a line of at least 50 people ahead of us. One of the attendants at the desk is working with a couple, obviously trying to re-book their flight. The line doesn’t seem to be moving quickly. In fact, it doesn’t seem to be moving at all. Two hours go by and we can finally see that there are seven people ahead of us. We are making progress. Unfortunately, that couple that we saw with the attendant at the counter is still there. I wonder where they were headed? At last we make it to the counter. BJ is insistent that we must get back home tonight. The only thing the airline can do is get us to Miami.

Pit Stop

BJ now makes phone calls to make arrangements for her pets to be cared for another day. All goes very well with that so she is not so crazed about this inconvenience. I make a call to reschedule my transportation. Then we wait for the welcome flight back to the states. Today’s sunset is seen through a large window from inside the airport and watch as the night pushes its way into the heavens. it is time to board our flight and after our arrival in Miami, we are bused to a nearby hotel for the night. We have no clean clothes so we will be wearing the same couture that we have on right now. Perhaps the Yucatán wanted us to stay longer. Who knows? Anyway, tonight I will sleep in Miami and tomorrow night, if all goes well, I will be back in my own bed.

A spiney-tailed iguana from the Yucatan.

This Yucatan spiney-tailed iguana poses for a full-length photo.

This spider monkey knows how to hang just right to get that favorite fruit.

This spider monkey knows how to hang just right to get that favorite fruit.

Mayan ruins at Uxmal.

A day in the life of a Mayan thousands of years ago.

Thank You

I hope you enjoyed traveling through the Yucatán with me, BJ and Dr. Laura Vick. It was great fun for us. It is my wish that if you ever get the opportunity to visit this part of the world, you do not hesitate for one moment. I leave you with a few more photos…

Annie M