Publishing Update: I met with a lit agent through Grub Street and while she was not passionate enough about VOST to represent me, she liked the writing and helped me improve my query letter. After sending it out to two more agents, I quickly received personalized rejections. While that might not seem heartening, it means I made it to the top of those agents’ inboxes and they didn’t send me a boilerplate response (or worse, nothing.) That is an improvement! I’m sending out another two this weekend. Cross your fingers for me.

On to stones as promised. Beyond a few mentions in Roman and Norse texts, there is no written history of Finland before the late Middle Ages. However there are archeological excavations, folktales and legends, and of course the Kalevala where I got my Finno-Ugric pantheon. I have delighted in writing a work of fiction that exists in the shadowy places between what history and literature have already established. So while A Veil of Silver Tears  is a fantasy, I hope it is one that feels grounded in reality. 

In my novel, Kalle and his family worship at Seitas, which we call glacial erratics. These large balanced stones were transported and left behind by glaciers, but if you were an Iron Age resident the idea that they were dropped by Gods was a far more likely explanation! (I am not the first to delight in glacial erratics. Here is a scientific article by Atlas Obscura if you’re interested and a fun blog post by Jason Colavito cataloging some fringe theories on glacial erratics in America.)


Forebears of today’s Sámi worshiped at these Seita stones. There they left offerings and made sacrifices and used them as markers on their established routes herding reindeer.

In my novel, because these stones were touched by the Gods, it seemed a natural extension to have the Brochs chip off pieces to carry as totems for protection. When Kalle leaves for Kotikari, his mother gifts him her bird totem, carved from a piece of their clan’s Seita. This token becomes an important emotional touchstone (literally!)

A major part of VOST is my two protagonists, Kalle and Inari, learning to reject the xenophobia of their clans. Religious practices are one way I made the clans different. The Brochs worship at Seitas and carry totems while Koryelians like Inari worship at trees. But the Tavastians (who are a minor part of Book 1) use cup stones, shallow depressions made in large rocks

as a place to leave their offerings. Today, most Finns are descended from Tavastians and modern-day Pagans continue the practice of using cup stones which you can find all over the Finnmark, Southern Finland and Estonia.

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