Every Name a Story

Copper Eyes. The Starmark clan is famous for their copper eyes, a trait they inherited from Radiance, who hails from the Ambervelte pack. She’s a buoyant, charismatic lady, and in many essentials of nature, her son Harmonious takes after her. Mikoto Reaver is more than a little in awe of her: “Glint’s bondmate was a force few knew they should be reckoning.”

Kyrie fiddled with a set of wooden shutters, and more light flooded the shelter. Enough that Lilya could now see the small, silvery star that marked the center of Radiance Starmark’s forehead. “Is that your blaze?”
“No.” Her eyebrows arched. “It’s a miracle.”
“Truly?” asked Kyrie, coming closer and bending down to see.
Radiance hooked his elbow and pulled him onto her lap.
For a moment, Kyrie froze. Lilya understood his surprise. Most people were wary of a red-eyed boy with horns. Not her. When Lady Starmark proceeded to snuffle his neck, he collapsed into gasps and giggles.
“She’s sniffening you!” Lilya exclaimed.
“Don’t mind me,” said Radiance. “Standard procedure for special guests. Especially wily, barrier-dropping dragons who may need tracking.”

Mikoto and the Reaver Village (Amaranthine Saga, #4)

Every Name a Story

Named for the Future. Harmonious is the firstborn son of Glint & Radiance Starmark, and he was named for the future hope on which Wardenclave was founded: peace between the Amaranthine clans and the reavers under their protection.

I think one of my favorite scenes in Book 2 is when Tenma Subaru sleeps over at Quen’s and wakes up surrounded by the Five. Harmonious gives peace such a personal touch.

What do you say, Tenma Subaru? Would you be opposed to my treating you as pack?”
“I must protest,” came a voice, low and lazy. “I saw him first.”
How long had Lapis been watching?
Harmonious snorted. “Eloquence’s claim is a matter of record. But if you crave kinship, I’ll claim you next, dragonling.”
Blue eyes widened, then narrowed. “Are you threatening me?”
“Let’s call it a promise. But this one first.”
Tenma’s stomach flipped at the intensity of Harmonious’ gaze. And the enormity of his offer. Dogs were reportedly friendly, Spokesperson Starmark more than most. So this probably wasn’t as important to him as it was to Tenma. But even if this dog made offers of friendship and kinship to every person who strolled through his gates, Tenma wanted this.
“Please,” he whispered.
“Good lad.” Harmonious leaned down to kiss his forehead. “Welcome home.”

Kimiko and the Accidental Proposal (Amaranthine Saga, #2)

Every Word Matters

Give and Take. There is a certain … compatibility of souls between the Amaranthine and reavers. In times past, this made reavers prey to greedy grabs for power. But some clans were patient enough to cultivate friendships with these bright souls, and trust led to the practice of tending. The five most prominent (even dominant) clans are those which held to a long tradition of peace & cooperation with reavers: dog, wolf, cat, dragon, and fox.

How long had it been? Several years, now. Ambrose hadn’t gone in for tending since leaving Europe. With the necessity of taking on reaver escorts, there had always been access. He was aware that Canary partook, as did Cat. But up until now, the reavers assigned to them had been bland things. They never stayed long, and none of them had inspired interest. Let alone trust.
Up until now.
It was mortifying to be so thoroughly drawn in. What had Canary said of the crew? Smitten. Ambrose could see why. It had nothing to do with Ms. Pinion being female. In his experience, a soul was a soul was a soul, regardless of the gender of the body in which it resided. The attraction wasn’t physical, yet the desire to be closer took hold with surprising strength.

Governed by Whimsy (Songs of the Amaranthine, #4)

Every Word Matters

Couriers. Before the Emergence, Betweeners didn’t use unsecured means of communication. Letters, messages, and communiques are still usually hand-delivered by heralds. Thus far, all of the heralds we’ve met in the Saga & Songs have been avian. (It’s a proud tradition.)

Is it important?” inquired Thrussel.
Wyn left off his fifth reread to blandly reply, “Most letters hand-delivered by heralds are. How did this even find me?”
“Discreet channels.”
“Am I found, then?”
“No, Wyn. We songbirds have our own way of making sure letters reach their intended recipients.” He touched Wyn’s arm. “It was passed from dove to ptarmigan to warbler before arriving in our vicinity. Someone remembered Lord Alderney having a little place by the name, and I offered to see it delivered. None the wiser.”

Hemmed in Silver (Songs of the Amaranthine, #5

Every Name a Story

Glint Starmark. When the “First of Dogs” takes a new name for himself, it’s star-themed. His first children, who are Kith, are given names that have significance to his life, his choices, and his hopes for the future. In doing so, he establishes the doggish naming sense that carries throughout the centuries (and the series).

His children never learned the name Loor-ket Highwind, nor did he hand down any wolf lore. When he sang, it was of the descent of an angel and the rise of a star. Though they had no crest, and their den was little more than a shed, they were a clan unto themselves. He took the name Starmark, and his children knew him as Glint.

Every Word Matters

Brightest of the Bright. In the Amaranthine Saga, the most powerful reavers are given “beacon” status. This is more about rank than specialties. So a beacon might belong to any of the various reaver classifications. Or not.

In Tamiko and the Two Janitors (Amaranthine Saga, #3), we learn that Argent Mettlebright has become something of an expert where reavers are concerned.

In my capacity as a member of the Amaranthine Council, I have personally met sixteen of the world’s beacons.”
“How many are there?” asked Joe.
“Officially? Twenty.” Argent inspected his claws, though he was actually focused on calming his tails. They felt as puffed as a squirrel’s. Far from dignified. “By longstanding tradition, only the twenty brightest souls alive can attain the title. However, Glint Starmark recently redefined and expanded the classification to account for perennial members … and to respectfully retire reavers who have reached the limit of their legacy.”
Kip leaned forward. “Perennial members?”
“More than half of the beacons alive today are either tree-kin like Joe’s sister or bound to an Amaranthine partner.” Argent smiled thinly. “The former still do their part, if sporadically, but the latter muddle Glint’s precious pedigrees by mingling species. He has opened the rank to new blood, provided they are adding to their legacy.”

Fun Fact: In Fumiko and the Finicky Nestmate (Amaranthine Saga, #5), you’ll be meeting one of those perennial members of the beacon rank. ::twinkle::

Every Word Matters

Piece it Together. I don’t always explain everything on the spot. Some readers like the hints and asides, since it allows them to put together all the little clues & reach a conclusion. Some of you probably want to throttle me. (Eheh.) In this case, I’m quite willing to explain a passing reference in yesterday’s chapter of Lord Mettlebright’s Man. Argent asks, “Shall I ask one of the sedge to assist you?”

Little by little in the Amaranthine Saga (and most especially in the Songs of the Amaranthine), readers are running up against more clans and their cultures. One of the most basic details I often include is the clan’s collective noun. In this case, sedge definitely refers to a group of cranes. Does this mean there are now cranes living at Stately House? I will point you to a few obscure (but highly pertinent) references. ::twinkle::

LMM, Ch89, “Creature Comforts”

I want… an espresso machine and a French chef to make breakfast pastries. Fine cheeses and a cellar filled with star wine. Access to an excellent tailor.” After a moment’s thought, he added, “And a place to hide.”

. . .

LMM, Ch199, “Little Boy Blues”

Ever wants those… denim trousers.”
“Jeans are practical, durable.” More to the point, “And Kyrie wears them whenever they play together.”
Breeches are practical. And durable.”
“You disapprove?”
“They’re not very… doggish.” Harmonious glanced apologetically in Argent’s direction.
“You’ll need a pair.” Jacques knew the way packs worked. “That way you’ll match your son.”
“Stature needn’t be prohibitive. Our tailor is excellent. Avian, you know.”

. . .

Mikoto and the Reaver Village, Ch41, “Bygones”

… a few dozen crossers, a partial herd of horses, a sedge of cranes, a nest of mice, one honeybee, two grumpy bear brothers, our French butler, and several members of the Amaranthine Council. Yay, verily, our Kith shelter runneth over, and we’re always expanding.”

. . .

You’ll be meeting the cranes eventually. (Why else would I bring them up?) I’m forever foreshadowing & backshadowing & alluding. If something doesn’t immediately make sense, you can 1) reread, 2) wait a bit, or 3) ask. Although more often than not, 4thy’s answer will (quite traditionally) be, “time will tell, for I shall not!”

Thank you for being patient with me!

Every Word Matters

Reaver Classifications. Every so often, someone will ask me for a glossary of terms, and reaver classifications are high on that list. While I mention several in passing, it’s my custom not to sit down and define every little thing until it becomes relevant to the story. (Spare me from blocks of unnecessary discourse.) Pinions came up in Governed by Whimsy because that’s Greta’s classification.

Back in April (2020), someone asked me about Greta’s reaver classification, and since I didn’t want speculation to lead to confusion, I went ahead and defined pinion:


Every Word Matters

Doggish Naming Sense. The Amaranthine dog clans have a unique naming sense, which I sort of based on those quirky virtue names favored by early American colonists. Glint Starmark is the one who actually began the tradition by setting aside his wolvish birth name (Loor-ket), choosing meaningful names for his Kith children (like Path, Pace, and Trio), and giving his bondmate a doggish name (Radiance).

Their firstborn son Harmonious continued the tradition. His five sons are named Merit, Prospect, Valor, Eloquence, and Ever.

Other wolves who “married into” the dog clans follow the established custom by taking a new name. A good example would be Sentinel Skybellow (head of security at New Saga High School), who left the packs when he took Harmonious Starmark’s daughter Rampant as his bondmate.

Every Word Matters

I have fielded many questions from readers who didn’t meet me in fandom first. Did my best to answer:

Why did you label Book 1 “the first miko”?
Are all of the main characters in your series shrine priestesses? No. While this certainly hints at the legacy of Japanese culture that helped inspire my fandom storylines, miko refers to the main characters’ first names. Book One is about Tsumiko. In Book Two, I’ll introduce Kimiko. Book Three’s story belongs to a lady named Tamiko… and so on. [From a blog comment from 2018, in which I teasered future titles. ::twinkle::]

Lynne asked…
For those of us not familiar with Japanese culture, would you please explain “Miko” and the significance of the prefixes? Is it a two-part name, like Mary Sue, Mary Ann, Mary Margaret? Or something else? Thank you ~


Every Word Matters

Stately House has changed quite a bit since the beginning of the Amaranthine Saga. That’s a trend I expect to continue. ::twinkle::

Stately House was refined and inspired, but it existed in such isolation. Like the emptiness clawing inside Argent, the building longed for a soul, for the liveliness and laughter of a loving family.

Tsumiko and the Enslaved Fox

006 stately

•   •   •


“We’ve been converting rooms.” Michael seemed confused by his confusion. “You didn’t know?”

Jacques simply repeated, “Orphans?”

“Tsumiko has opened Stately House to children of mixed heritage ….”

Michael went into detail while Jacques tried not to be devastated. Argent would accept children simply because they were part-chicken or part-goat, yet shun someone who wanted a place just as much. Non… more.

Lord Mettlebright’s Man

Every Word Matters

Clan Names. I was just mentioning portmanteaux on Patreon last week with regards to Amaranthine “surnames,” which are more properly referred to as clan names. I use a tried-and-true system often found in fantasy books. Mash a couple of words together, and … voila! That means it’s possible to pick apart most clan names and look at their meaning. Argent Mettlebright is an excellent place to start. ::twinkle::

005 mettle

Sentient Beasts

“Kith and Kin” is an old-timey phrase that refers to ones friends and family, and it led to the name I gave to the sentient animals who are part of the Amaranthine clans. In the Saga & Songs, the Amaranthine refer to themselves collectively as “the clans” or “the Kindred,” with an imperfectly understood hierarchy. There are the so-called High Amaranthine, who are able to take human form. Then the Kith, who seem to be (unusually large) Amaranthine versions of known animals. And then the Ephemera … but that’s another word for another blog post. ::twinkle::

004 kith

“Children are precious to the clans. They need our affection, our protection, our attention, our guidance.” Offering a small shrug, Deece added, “This is true for Kith and Kindred alike.”

—Tsumiko and the Enslaved Fox

•  •  •

Hey! Have you noticed yet that all Kith have four-letter names? That means that Kith-kin are often given a new name when they find their way into speaking form. What do you think Alder Woodacre’s birth name might have been? ::twinkle::

Fun Fact: Moon-kin Ambervelte, who is also Kith-kin, never changed his name. He still goes by Moon.


Reaver Classifications

Ward. The first reaver classification readers of the Amaranthine Saga encounter is ward, which is a bit of a catch-all category. Lots of subsets, depending on aptitudes and affinities. In a very general sense, wards are capable of crafting sigils.

003 ward

•  •  •

“Please, call me Michael. Ward is really more of a job description than a surname.”

“You’re a … ward?” That brought up unsettling images of wardens and prisoners. “I thought you were Aunt Eimi’s driver.”

“That’s certainly why I’m behind the wheel,” he said lightly.

Tsumiko and the Enslaved Fox

•  •  •

I’m regularly asked to provide a comprehensive glossary of reaver classifications, but … I’m still making them up. ::twinkle::

Every Word Matters

Word Nerd. I love words. I was thinking it would be fun to do a series of graphics that celebrate some of the key words (and names) in the Saga & Songs. Stuff like this will probably start cropping up here and on my other social media:

001 amaranthine


I think it would also be fun to do a series with the different varieties of Ephemera. And maybe even one for clan names. Time will tell. ::twinkle::