Part ii.



A wave of scents tumbled over me as I stepped through the archway separating the courtyard from the busy kitchen, and even I, who found it difficult to eat on an ordinary morning due to my sleepiness overpowering my appetite, found my mouth watering. All of the seafoods that Ionorn was normally bereft of because of its location were being either cooked or preserved for cooking at a later point in the day, and the taste of all of the festival delicacies that made the food my favorite part of the midsummer solstice hung tantalizingly in my imagination, beyond the reach of my tongue but firmly within the grasp of my agitated memory.

In particular, the smell of smoked salmon drew me deeper through the throng of bodies moving this way and that, working tirelessly to make a breakfast fit for the gods. Indeed, portions of everything we ate during the next four days and nights would be set before the various votive offerings and oils and frescoed interiors in the recessed shelves that comprised the household altars of both my family’s and Levenus’. The festival was, for the most part, a supplication. What pleasure the supplicants derived from the rituals was incidental or, at the very least, secondary. I knew this and anticipated the work to come with a sedating sense of peace that buzzed soothingly against every train of thought that normally might set my mind to restlessness. The kitchen would be busy all day today because the gods must have gifts, and so would I be busy because mortals must have ways to give them.

Continue reading “Part ii.”

Fiction Writer’s Cheat Sheet

It’s currently 4:33 a.m. and I’m sitting at my kitchen table, enjoying the bottommost bit of a mulled cider candle and listening to music while I write. I’m really hoping to see more leaves on the ground when I leave today.

Alright, I know it and you do too: Nobody likes lengthy introductions to these kinds of posts. To spare you time, I’ll keep things simple and just tell you that whenever I plan to work on my manuscript, I open my notes first and review them quickly to make sure all these strategies are fresh in my mind. They can help you, too, so why not have a look? You’ve got nothing to lose.

Racing Ahead & Crushing Writer’s Block

Don’t stop to retcon. Make a note of the change and continue writing as if your past writing already agrees with it. This includes changes like a character’s pronouns, a personality trait, a tweak to the geography of your setting, and even bigger things like adding a whole new plot point or character.

Perfectionism is paralyzing. Allow yourself to just write. Stop rereading what you’ve already written. Don’t spend five minutes looking for the exact right word to use. Just go, go, go. Worry about the tiny details when you’re working on the second draft.

Don’t include subplots in the first draft. Instead, make notes about the subplots and focus on the main story first, and after that, you can weave the subplot in more masterfully when the first draft is finished. The subplots will have to be changed to reflect changes to the main story after the first draft is finished anyway.

Blocks happen because you don’t have a clear enough idea of what you’re trying to write. Consider your outline. Think about the themes, think about the characters’ personalities. Think about what makes the characters act. Think about their goals.

If you absolutely cannot overcome a block that’s stopping you from working on a certain part of your manuscript, skip it and work on another part, then come back to the earlier part later. It’s okay to write a first draft out of order.

Continue reading “Fiction Writer’s Cheat Sheet”

Wildflowers: 9.14.2018 Pre-Writing Exercise

(Sometimes before I start to work on my manuscript, I do a small bit of freewriting to help get the creative juices flowing.)

“Wildflowers in the meadow; we pick them at dawn and bring them to the table in a glass vase. They come in a million hues, in reds and yellows and lavender and everything else. The sun shines through the window and makes those hues oh so much brighter, and we drink the scents of the petals in bloom. We cross paths with Mother Earth and she asks us where we’re going. We tell her we do not know, but we hope the breeze follows us all the way there.”

© Alixander F. D. Bragiteilen and, 2018. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Alixander F. D. Bragiteilen and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

All the Google Searches That Have Gone Into Researching TMAR (Until Now)

I thought it might be interesting/funny to look back on the google searches I’ve made for the sake of research for The Mountain Also Rots when I’m done with it, so every once in a while I go back in my internet history and record them all in a OneNote tab. Behold, all the google searches that have gone into the making of this story, from May 1 to September 14. There’s a lot of them.

Continue reading “All the Google Searches That Have Gone Into Researching TMAR (Until Now)”

Gender in the TMAR-Verse

Alright, so this is gonna be a “the making of” type post.

From almost the very beginning back in March, I knew I didn’t want the gender roles of real life to play any part in the world that is the setting of The Mountain Also Rots. The characters in the story have no concept of different sexualities or gender-based discrimination. But even being trans, it’s been a challenge to think outside of the box in a way that would allow me to bypass real-life gender completely. I started out thinking about how I could possibly assign a set of mannerisms to a third gender if the first two were male and female (How could I make something truly in-between and not just masculinity/femininity watered down?), but I quickly scrapped that idea in favor of inventing new genders that had nothing to do with masculinity or femininity at all.

Instead of a masculine gender, a feminine gender, and a gender that is neither or both, I decided that the set of genders I’d come up with would be based on roles that specific Bekkazik and Anmaeoni, and later, Abguzik and Ionorni gods play in their mythologies.

The result was three similar sets of three genders; one for Bekkaz, one for Anmaeona/Iornorn, and one for Abguzei. Post-[spoiler], the Anmaeoni and Bekkazik sets of genders eventually melded into one set in Abguzei, while the Ionorni in the mountains kept the bulk of what made up Anmaeoni genders.

[Note: Lexical stress (the stress of a particular syllable within a word) is indicated by a high vertical line (ˈ) before the syllable, and if you want to make sure you’re pronouncing all these made-up words right, you’ll probably need this.]

Pre-[spoiler], the three Bekkazik genders were “soft,” “lively,” and “rigid.” They all had their specific mannerisms and ideals, though people of every gender were as diverse as in real life, and after melding with the “delicate” iomen \ˈjoʊmʌn\, the “dexterous” nysoman \ˈni:soʊmʌn\, and the “strong” cimoarimen \ki:moʊˈɑːrɪmʌn\ of Anmaeona, respectively, those mannerisms and ideals changed slightly.

(Side note: Iomen are ideally “naecra,” nysomen are ideally “nomun,” and cimoarimen are ideally “nunacor.” These words translate literally as “delicate,” “dexterous,” and “strong,” respectively.)

The “soft” Bekkazik gender melded with the “delicate” preparing Anmaeoni gender to become the open-armed gender in post-[spoiler] Abguzei. People of this gender are called mehetikurin, singular mehetikur \meˈhetɪkuːr\. Similarly, the “lively” gender and the “dexterous” building gender became the far-seeing Abguzik gender, with the people belonging to it called seheinurin, singular seheinur \seˈheɪnuːr\. Thee “rigid” gender and  the “strong” leveling gender became the resolute Abguzik gender. People of the resolute gender are called ekmanakurin, singular ekmanakur \ekmʌˈnakuːr\.

Like I said, people of any given gender in the TMAR-verse are as diverse as men, women, and people of the various nonbinary genders are in real life, but they do have “ideal” forms that people tend to picture when they think of each gender. Amarin is a fairly “naecra” ioman, and his looks are close to what people in the TMAR-verse picture when they think of the analogous Abguzik open-armed gender. His occupation as a priest-in-training is also an extremely “naecra” occupation and is thought of as typical of the preparing gender, ioman. A priest prepares religious rituals to be performed by a person or group, and once the ritual is carried out, the process of building can begin, and after that, leveling so that preparation can begin once again. (The ritual itself is also a preparation for that building phase.)

For an Abguzur, the ideal open-armed-gendered person looks and acts like a warm and nurturing person who exudes an aura of hominess. Abguzurin typically imagine a small and soft-looking person when they picture open-armed people. For the far-seeing gender, the ideal looks and acts like an adventurous and energetic person who craves new experiences. They’re typically imagined as having sun-tanned skin, wide smiles, wiry frames, and their heads in the clouds. For the resolute gender, the ideal is represented by the picture of a protective person who carries a quiet intensity about them. They’re usually quite large and imposing in people’s imaginations.

I haven’t quite decided how pronouns fit into this, but for the time being, I’m using she, him, and them just so I can continue writing without needing to have every little detail set in stone before I start. Gender in the TMAR-verse is a concept I’ll be returning to many times to build upon and refine.

Read Part i of The Mountain Also Rots.  —>

© Alixander F. D. Bragiteilen and, 2018. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Alixander F. D. Bragiteilen and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Part i.

“In the midst of the solstice festival of a city nestled in the mountains, far above the rancid debauchery of the rotter country down below, the two young lovers Amarin and Levenus are set suddenly adrift across an unfamiliar land, their households and everything they knew torn apart by the memory of a mother and the truth she kept hidden.”



In my memory, there is a young noble constantly looking over her shoulder. She has not eaten in two days. If I focus hard enough, I can feel the blisters on her feet as she runs as swiftly as her legs will carry her, keeping pace with her thundering heart even after the point when those legs should have given out.

I can still see the sun as it was then… on that day, in the wasteland. With my waking eyes, I see the light peering down from the heavens– and swallowed up by the flames of the burning earth. The ashes of people and animals that had walked upon it tumbled forth into the skies, and the sand where once there had been fields of grain beat at the monuments that were crumbling to the ground, their wooden skeletons collapsing and stirring up a storm that suffocated everything around me. Scavenging insects’ wings were stilled and their bodies crushed under heel as my body fought for purchase on every step moving through the blaze. My eyes saw nothing. My skin was stung and burned, and in the fore of my mind, I heard the wrath of the gods who churned the very earth itself beneath my feet. Above the sound of my roaring blood, they cursed me. In the darkness behind my eyelids that had shut tight, I feared as I had never feared before.

Continue to Part ii. —>

© Alixander F. D. Bragiteilen and, 2018. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Alixander F. D. Bragiteilen and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.