The Jitters

Cover photo by DominikMoser / 61 images

I don’t know how else to describe it but to tell you it’s like being crouched in the starting blocks before the gun fires. You lasso all that nervous energy as your mouth goes dry and your limbs twitch. You balance on your fingertips behind the white line and kick out each leg, one by one, then place the spiked tips of your running cleats in the blocks. You pray. You recite words of affirmation. You clear your mind.

The official shouts, “Set.” You raise your hips and hold your breath and wait for permission to unleash.

That’s how I enter 2022. Set but jittering. Excited and hopeful but ultimately scared.


I started BLOOD RAIN, an epic fantasy tale, back in 2008. It was my graduate school thesis, and for two years, I worked on it with the help of my advisors. After graduation, I told myself I was putting it aside because I was six month pregnant and still experiencing morning sickness. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, I can see I put it aside because I wasn’t a good-enough writer to tell that particular tale.

BLOOD RAIN has sat in the stands of my life while I had children, started new jobs, and moved countries, three times. I wrote a trilogy and various short stories and flash fiction pieces before that manuscript finally tapped me on the shoulder and announced it was time.


Woman up

I can’t believe I’m actually telling you that when I tried to share the idea for BLOOD RAIN with a best friend who is also a writer, I stumbled over my words like a teenager asking out my crush.

Where had my confidence gone? Where’d the woman who told her boss she wanted to go to Japan at 26, and then did so, alone? Or the woman who climbed Mt Fuji through the night to watch the sunrise so she could say there is such a thing as a silver lining?

I’m a published author! My trilogy is being turned into an audio book (in Swedish). The readers will be professional voice actors (also Swedish). I have worked as an editor, writer, and ghostwriter. I teach creative writing at a university. Surely insecurity about my writing is something I’ve outgrown?

(I surely hope Brené Brown is right about how voicing our insecurities diminishes their power over us.)

One Race, One Character, One Word at a Time

Firstly, BLOOR RAIN feels much larger than The Evolved Ones trilogy. I’m creating a world where the reader can’t rely on contemporary knowledge to fill in the blanks.

Secondly, magic has rules. What are they, and who gets to use the magic? Why them and not someone else? Will everyone be humans or will I create other races? If so, which ones? How is wealth determined? How do families (not nations) rise? How do they fall?

What was travel like when the most commonly used mode of transportation was the foot? How did that impact society? How did that define society?

It’s a lot of fun filtering my story through these constraints. It gets my creative mind swirling with possibilities, but there are so many moving parts I sometimes fall into a rabbit hole of doubt and insecurity: can I really do this?

Novel Ideas
World Building

I’m spending the first quarter of 2022 just building the world. I’ve mapped out the geography in my head and its corresponding climate. I’ve created the global hierarchy for rule, and am in the process of rolling it down by regions and then nations.

All my notes for this story are written in this inspirational leather-bound, aged journal. (Click here to see the shop on Etsy.)

I spent the weekend creating the backstory to my leading four characters, Ayel, Eldrisyll, Xisha (a.k.a. Tweet), and Jordain. Let’s not discuss how long it took me to settle on their names. I wanted some of them to sound non-euro-centric to reflect the diversity of the characters.

Words matter! So, I’m also doing a lot of etymology searches because I can’t use modern descriptions to create a medieval world.

The Chosen One

I’ve read a lot of epic fantasy lately, and one thing that seems to be a repeated trope (that works) is the concept of the chosen one.

I’ve decided to not go down that route. Instead, my main character, Ayel, will have to write herself into history. She will be overlooked, underestimated, and devalued.

Enjoy the Journey

Footprints through the sand at beach
Image by ddzphoto from Pixabay

My goal is to finish the first draft by the end of the summer. I can’t tell if that’s overly ambitious or more time than I need, but I am going to enjoy world-building and the freedom of not writing to a deadline.

If you’re interested in the process of creating an epic fantasy, please read my Current WIP page. I update it weekly with details about new characters, families, magic, lore, etc.

Thanks for reading.

9 thoughts on “The Jitters

  1. Oh, my gosh…naming characters! Just as hard as naming your children. Pre-parenthood, I thought naming a child would be so much fun. Then I had to do it, and it was such a challenge. Character names are the same for me. They must have some sort of significance. Someday, I’ll write a blog post about the inspiration for my characters’ names.

    I like the flip in the trope, too. An interesting perspective.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Yes! A name says a lot. They often just come to me, but this time I had to put a lot of thought into them.

      Make sure you let me know when you write that post about names. I’d love to read it!

      Re the trope flip… wish me luck. 😉

      1. I’m working on second draft now, which isn’t as consuming as first draft. So, I’m trying to pay more attention to my blog. Like you, sharing bits and pieces about worldbuilding, characters, and my inspiration. Plus, my thoughts about the craft of writing, too. I’ll be following your progress.

  2. Wow! Just wow. Not many people will truly talk about the jitters. They will consider it as a flaw, something one shouldn’t have but the reality is, we all have them. We’re stepping into the unknown. A place in time we never seen before and that can be jittery (lol) . Your transparency was so pure and at the same time real life. It wasn’t some made up story but your own story!

    I can’t wait to read the weekly updates and for this next chapter of the Author, Natasha Oliver

    1. Thanks, Brittany! I’m so glad you liked it. It comes from the heart. Haha. Brené Brown says when we give voice to our insecurities, their hold on us weakens, and so I decided to give it a try.

  3. Your words entrance me, I absolve you of jitters. There is no doubt we are in for a wonderful journey. Anxiously awaiting the trip BLOOD RAIN will provide!

    1. Thanks! It means a lot to hear you say that. Deep breaths.

  4. Simply beautiful! I’m anxiously awaiting to read Blood Rain.❤️

    1. Thanks. I hope you like it. (I’ll help with the name pronunciations. 😉)

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