Saturday, November 26, 2016


Foreground digital painting of character i-Aten Elena drawn © Amanda Grace Shu 2016. Background image source credit to Frank Vincentz via Wikimedia Commons.
It's time to introduce you to a new character in the Kevarya Universe, one completely unrelated to the Royal Family with which A Winter's Ball was so concerned. Their name is i-Aten Elena, or just Elena, and they provide the first hint of magic at play.

Now a note about Elena. Elena is what's known as genderfluid, a term which may trip up some people. Genderfluidity, according to Genderfluid Support, can be defined as "the feeling of fluidity within your gender identity; feeling a different gender as time passes or as situations change; not restricted to any number of genders." Elena uses singular they pronouns (they/them/theirs). Is this grammatically correct? Yes, of course it isThe singular "they" was even named the American Dialect Society's Word of the Year in 2015. Pronouns have changed from plural to singular before, and since language itself is constantly changing, the idea of what is grammatically correct is rather, shall we say... fluid. Like gender. Or, for example, the nature of Time Itself.

Speaking of which...


Monday, November 21, 2016

Kevarya: A Map of the Known World

"Amanda! You're posting again! It's been over half a year since you last posted something, we were so worried! What have you been working on instead of indulging your (possibly imaginary) blog readers with new writing?"

Mostly: screaming in mild terror as life throws a varied and numerous assortment of challenges and responsibilities at me. But otherwise: worldbuilding.

You may vaguely remember the Kevarya Universe, in which A Winter's Ball and Copper and Stardust take place. Perhaps you've wondered, what even is "Kevarya," and what are those characters in A Winter's Ball talking about when they bring up "Galara" or "Yenoui" or "The Southern Lands"? What does this new fantasy world of Amanda's look like?

Well, today I give you the answers to those questions, in the form of a map!

If you want to zoom in to take a closer look, here's a full-sized version.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Curst Be He

On the left, John Donne, 17th-century poet and priest, painted by an unknown artist circa 1595. On the right, William Shakespeare,17th-century poet, playwright, and wearer of a stylish earring, attributed to John Taylor circa 1610.
Good friends, 'tis the four-hundredth anniversary of William Shakespeare's death (and possibly his birth as well). As avid members of the Shakespeare fandom celebrate the Bard's legacy across the Internet (and Anti-Stratfordians raise a clamor of unnecessary consternation on behalf of the real author of Shakespeare's plays, who is undoubtedly Francis Bacon/Edward de Vere/Christopher Marlowe/a time-travelling Lin-Manuel Miranda), I asked the characters of an ongoing project of mine what Shakespeare means to them.

"Why don't you ask him yourself?" said one necromancer, Miss Siona Donne. She promptly proceeded to throw open a curtain, revealing not only the zombie of her ancestor John Donne, but a Zombie William Shakespeare as well. (Zombies, in this universe, are well-possessed of their minds and do not require a diet of brains, barring the results of any fits of nostalgia they may have for Tudor-era chicken-brain blancmange.)

This brought many, many questions to my mind. Is this the reason Shakespeare's skull is missing from Holy Trinity Church? Didn't Shakespeare put a curse on his grave, and if so, what would it do to our gutsy necromancer? What's the relationship between Zombie Shakespeare and Zombie Donne? And why would someone want to raise Shakespeare from the dead in the first place?

Of course, the only acceptable answer comes in the form of a short story.

Good frend for Iesvs sake forebeare,
To digg the dvst encloased heare.
Bleste be the man that spares thes stones,
And cvrst be he that moves my bones.
epitaph of William Shakespeare, inscribed on his grave at Holy Trinity Church

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


Fathers and daughters across time and space: an Adobe Photoshop edit combining photos by AmarinskySrichakra Pranav, and NASA. Photos licensed under Wikimedia Commons and remixed by Amanda Grace Shu.
Guess who's been published in her first professional market?

This story was written as a Christmas gift for my father and later revised at the Alpha Workshop. I wanted to write a story that conveyed both the joy of fantasy exploration and the emotional strain of adventure upon a father-daughter relationship. The story darts in and out of Clare's life as her father does, never fully resolving any of the conflicts hinted at, and yet giving us a full sense of their relationship, in all its ups and downs.

So, without further ado, I present to you...

Friday, February 26, 2016

Copper and Stardust

Photoshopped by me. Image source credit to NASA ([x] and [x]). The image of the stars is titled "Chaos at the Heart of Orion," which is an absolutely gorgeous title that I might use in a story someday.
Newer readers will remember A Winter's Ball, the first and currently only excerpt from a novel I am working on (read: doing everything but writing). This is a bit of world-building for that novel, exploring the Kevaryese culture's belief in how the universe came to be.

I have always loved world mythology, and particularly creation myths. It always surprises me how similar these ancient cultures' stories are in their imagery, even when many of the cultures had no way of interacting with each other. This myth doesn't have a Creator figure, but rather is centered around the idea that the world came from a union of sky and earth, as the Egyptians and the Ancient Greeks both believed, and the interaction between the darkness and the sun's light mirrors the Chinese concept of ying and yang. However, I like to think I added some unique elements to this story. I'll leave you to figure those out for yourselves.

So, without further ado...

Copper and Stardust:
A Kevaryese Creation Myth

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Video: Control

What if the two most dangerous villains Amanda has ever created fought each other?

When Siona Donne breaks through the barrier between universes in search of information on a ritual to make her a goddess, Roderigo must learn how to access all the power of his formidable brain in order to protect himself and his family from the necromancer. // Higher-resolution video here. Siona played by Lara Pulver, Roderigo by Anthony Stewart Head. Shout-out to Katrina S. and Jay B., both of whom helped me forge these characters and their universes. I own none of these video clips.

Monday, January 18, 2016

A Winter's Ball

"Aristocrats gathering around Emperor Franz Joseph at a ball in the Hofburg Imperial Palace, painting by Wilhelm Gause (1900)." Image from Wikimedia Commons, in the public domain. It is, as is to be expected, a winter's ball.

Some of you may remember me working on a novel called The Omniscence. Alas, all good things must come to an end, and I regret to inform you all that I have laid Omni to rest—at least Omni in its current form. But I've got a new project that I'm very excited to share with you. Welcome to Kevarya.

Cousins Masha and Arkady are children of war. Both their fathers died in the aftermath of a brutal contest for the throne; both their mothers wrested power from the grip of the patriarchy and paid the price. Both cousins were princesses, but are no longer—Masha because her parents' reign was annulled, Arkady because he is transgender—and both live in exile, be it in a faraway nation or the mysterious Mountains of Old. Both know that the Woman King of Kevarya is not long for this world. And both are headed toward the City of the Crown, intent on claiming the kingdom for themselves.

Pitted against each other by rival government factions, Arkady and Masha begin unraveling the most well-kept secrets of the Kevaryese court as they search for ways to take each other down. Gender, race, and sexuality are no longer facets of their identities, but weaknesses to be hidden, lest they be exploited. No one and nothing is safe. But Kevarya's secrets run deeper than either of them could imagine—and the very crown they're fighting for has a dangerous power that could prove to be their undoing.

Trigger warnings: deliberate misgendering, transphobic and homophobic comments, and incorrect assumption of child abuse.

A Winter's Ball

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Translation: The Huron Carol

"Reconstruction of a Huron longhouse for the film "Robe Noire," site of la Nouvelle-France, Saint-Félix-d'Otis, Québec, Canada [tr. Amanda Grace Shu]." By Pierre5018 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.

I know what you're thinking. What's a Christmas carol post doing on my blog in January? Do I not know that Christmas is over?

Well, to that I say, 1) Hey, it ain't over until Epiphany happens, and 2) I didn't have this translation ready at Christmas, because I didn't discover this song until after Christmas, and I can't stand to wait another year before sharing this with you all.

The Huron Carol is Canada's oldest Christmas carol, written by a Jesuit priest named Father John de Brébeuf, later canonized as one of the patron saints of Canada. (Yes, yes, here I must admit I'm American, not Canadian, but I'm a nerd, so of course I know who the patron saint of Canada is.) Father John lived among the Wendat/Huron people and wrote this carol in the Wendat language, making this one of the first texts written in Wendat. A popular English translation was created by Jesse Edgar Middleton in 1926, but his translation has been criticized for its confusion of different native cultures and Western use of broad generalizations about what they think "Native American" culture should be. Nevertheless, alternative translations are few and limited to a few verses as in the Heather Dale cover of the song in English, French, and Wendat.

I discovered this carol through Heather Dale's song and went digging for a direct translation from Wyandot to English, the only one of which I found at Diversity Tree. Andrea Shallay, author of the Diversity Tree article, writes: "I was moved by the intimate and respectful tone of the original lyrics. Instead of using made-up native images to fit a nativity story, it is a theological discussion tapping into images and values shared by both Christian and traditional Huron beliefs. Cultural references are not thrown around lightly, nor is the meaning of the images compromised for either party. It is not a tool for conversion because the lyrics require the Huron people to share what was important to them just as Father de Brébeuf could share what was important to him. I find the traditional lyrics of the Huron Carol to be a carol of respect and cultural exchange, attempting to translate meaning across cultural boundaries."

With this as my mission statement and both the direct English translation and the French translation as my guides, I set out to write a rhyming, metrically-fitting English translation of the Huron Carol. Note: I do not speak Wendat at all and am not a member of the First Nations. If my translation is inaccurate, disrespectful, or is surpassed by a translation written by a member of the Huron tribe, please defer to those from whose culture this song comes. If you are a member of the Huron tribe or speak the Wendat language, do not hesitate to contact me with notes on this translation. I am always eager to learn more.

The Huron Carol