More Inspiration: The DiRel – Olive

(Photo cred.:

This is one of a series of posts about inspiration for the novel we’ve written, OF GOLD AND FIRE.

The DiRel people – A people ruled by Women

Some of the inspiration for the DiRel society, the group that one of our main characters belongs to, comes from the Mosuo (or “Na”) people, a small ethnic minority in China.

One of the last matrilineal societies in the world, the Mosuo (also spelled Moso) live near a Lugu Lake in Yannan, China. Years ago, I read a book about them called Leaving Mother Lake: A Girlhood at the Edge of the World, by Yang Erche Namu and Christine Mathieu. I highly recommend it. (Amazon says that I purchased this book in 2007, so I’ve been thinking about it for quite a while.)

The Mosuo have a tradition that is often called “walking marriages.” In fact, they don’t really marry at all, at least in the sense that we do in the West. Also, family structure is very different from the way we organize ourselves. For example, children belong to the family of the mother, and men sometimes have very little involvement in the raising of the children. Women are also the heads of the household, the matriarch being the end all be all in Mosuo families.

One of the things the book mentioned was that you never have any question whether a child is of that mother; there can be no mistake as to maternity…I mean, it kind of makes sense that a society would do that, especially before DNA and so on.

Like the Mosuo and other Chinese, the local people in our story think that the DiRel are promiscuous, which isn’t the case. The Mosuo [DiRel] generally take only one partner at a time, but lack the usual reservations that Western society (or the “local” society in CHAINED) places on women, or men for that matter.

But the DiRel are also markedly different from the Mosuo in many ways. For one, the DiRel are a much more primitive people, wearing skins and hunting for their food. They keep chickens, but no other livestock. The setting for the DiRel Mountain, as mentioned in our blog post, Inspiration for CHAINED: Setting and Slavery, is the Kuwaiti desert and craggy Hindu Kush, specifically in Afghanistan.

To read about the Mosuo, please pick up Leaving Mother Lake, or check out the Mosuo project online.



Rogue One: A (Star) War(s) “Story” – Aristen

Alright, first I need to write a disclaimer.

  1. I enjoyed watching Rogue One. I was entertained.
  2. Repeat: I was entertained. It is possible to enjoy something, but also be critical of it.
  3. After The Force Awakens, I was fiending for a new Star Wars anything. The promise of Rogue One intrigued me.
  4. But I do not think Rogue One delivered in many ways. I hadn’t read any previews or have I read any critical response to the movie. I just saw one trailer.


  • This post will contain spoilers, you’ve been warned



Continue reading “Rogue One: A (Star) War(s) “Story” – Aristen”

National Novel Writing Month … Why not? – Aristen

We write all year. But November is a fun time for writers everywhere—a time when they can join forces and inspire each other through an organized event called NaNoWriMo.

Despite having a half-dozen other half-baked projects in various states of disarray, NaNoWriMo is a fun exercise (cough EXCUSE cough) to start fresh and try something completely different, all with a 50k word count goal.

It’s also convenient, as right now, that OF GOLD AND FIRE is in the hands of our editor, and will be for most of November. Despite doing initial forays into rewrites of Book 2, I like taking time off from that particular universe and meandering in something else. (As long as the Dark Souls 3 DLC doesn’t ruin my life…)

Here’s what we plan on writing, with links to our profiles in the event you are participating and may want to add us as “writing buddies.” Hey, why not? Writing together is so much more fun that writing alone. So why not join us?

Working Title: Kings of the New Church
Genre: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy and Existential Horror
The Pitch: Daysi Hellsing is 30 days sober, still in denial and by accident, finds herself in an AA meeting to fight her demons… alongside actual demons.

Working Title: The Left Behind
Genre: YA Dystopian Sci-Fi
The Pitch: After volcanic eruptions combined with man-made pollution sours the air killing all the microorganisms at the bottom of the food chain, mass extinctions ensue. Humans abandon Earth, traveling the galaxy to spoil another planet, and Tarrah is left behind but far from alone.

The Bechdel Test for OF GOLD AND FIRE = PASS – Olive

What is the Bechdel test?

According to

“The Bechdel Test, sometimes called the Mo Movie Measure or Bechdel Rule is a simple test which names the following three criteria: (1) it has to have at least two women in it, who (2) who talk to each other, about (3) something besides a man.”

The test was popularized by Alison Bechdel‘s comic Dykes to Watch Out For, in a 1985 strip called The Rule. For a nice video introduction to the subject check out The Bechdel Test for Women in Movies on

OK, so OF GOLD AND FIRE isn’t a movie (or TV show, YET). But after being reminded of this little test, I figured I’d mention it since it could easily apply to other mediums too. Because why not? Plus it’s a chance for me to plug our writing and rich story—and our bad-ass lady characters.

Continue reading “The Bechdel Test for OF GOLD AND FIRE = PASS – Olive”

Books to Write Books, my Writer’s Library – Olive

Sorry about our brief hiatus. Aristen and I have been busy chipping away at OF GOLD AND FIRE after receiving feedback from beta readers. Consequently, we’ve been neglecting our blog a bit. Oops.

Anyway, I’m going to share with  you a few of my favorite books that help me write, especially when I’m stuck on a specific problem. As a disclaimer, I don’t use any of these books word for word, but they often give ideas—especially if I’m stuck! I also routinely use these books to add depth to what I’ve already written.

1.  Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus, 3rd Ed., by David Auburn


Yes, I do go online and use But I find that a physical book I can tab and refer to over and over jogs my brain better than searching online. Many of my books are dog-eared and have rainbow-colored wings gracing their fore edges. For a logophile/bibliophile like me, it’s multi-colored happiness.

Continue reading “Books to Write Books, my Writer’s Library – Olive”

Cosplay and Crushes – Olive

I mentioned in a series of tweets that one of our beta readers has really gotten into the story:


Giggling girlishly, so beyond happy and totally twitterpated, I typed up those tweets and went along my day, satisfied with a job well done. Sure, we have a lot of work to do on the story to make it shine (editor, rewrites), but I think every writer/author dreams of the day when their readers can fall in love with their characters just like they have. I see tweets about this all the time; there’s fan art, fan fiction, you name it. Our world is big enough for some badass fanfic, if I don’t say so myself.

Then the next morning, something completely hilarious happened. But let me start with a short story…

Continue reading “Cosplay and Crushes – Olive”

Progress Check on OF GOLD AND FIRE – Olive

Phew. OF GOLD AND FIRE is currently in the hands of a select few beta readers, and we recently received feedback from some of them. We are so excited! Why might we be excited about people coming in and picking apart our story? Because above all, most of the feedback we received was positive and constructive. I’m so impressed with the thought and effort that went into the responses we’ve gotten so far, and we still have a couple reviews outstanding. A hundred thousand thank you’s to all our beta readers.

This is also a special time for us because most of our work throughout our lives has been made for the other. Aristen and I have written together since we were in kindergarten, but this is a whole new endeavor: sending our baby out into the world for the very first time.

We still have [a ton of] work to do, but let me share some of the kudos:

“[Character R] is awesome, more hunting wizards please.”

“I feel like you don’t want me to like [character J], but he’s one of the most awesome people in the story.”

This reader had a preference for character J for sure.

“[Character J] is awesome. It seemed like you wanted me to feel he was the bad guy in the situation, but everything he did made him likable.”

And, funny enough, this same reader wanted another character to die … a lot. It cracked us up.

Continue reading “Progress Check on OF GOLD AND FIRE – Olive”