A Series-ous Problem


I had an epiphany while getting ready for work.

I’ve been trying to plot out book 2 of my series with little luck. It has a plot of its own—Lakeerae is trying to learn more about her Jadeflare, but an assassin amongst the Avar is complicating things and now wants her out of the way.

However, I can’t seem to form that into a coherent outline. In fact, I can’t even get myself to start. I keep distracting myself with other things—like maps, or blog posts.🙂

Then I realized why.

Book 1 of my series was super easy to outline. It’s basically the Hero’s Journey, which worked great to give it a clear cut beginning-middle-end path. I meander along the way, no doubt, but it’s a nice, organized 3 Act play at the heart. Yay, organized.

Book 2 won’t conform to that. Now Lakeerae is between her initial journey and the overarching goal of the series which is only just becoming clear to her. So now I have to rethink my strategy, and it seems I’m being lazy.

I have to wonder if this is why the second book/movie in a series is usually less spectacular than the first. Often, the second seems to just be a means to an end. It’s not our introduction to the character, and it’s not him/her reaching their ultimate goal. It’s just some of the stuff that happens in between.

I had this epiphany after reading an article from Ink and Quills about book series. It wasn’t directly related to my problem, but it got me thinking enough to get me here.

Her suggestions for making a series that works:

  1. Make sure you have enough story. I know I have enough story. I’ve actually expanded from 3 books to 4. We’ll see if I can fill all that space, though. But from what I’ve planned currently, I think I can.
  2. Plan it out. Yes, yes, I need to plan. Apparently I need to plot all three of the remaining books, not just because of this advice, but to make myself feel better too.
  3. Don’t add filler. I don’t plan to. My goal is about 90k words per book, but if I end up under that with a story that’s satisfying, I’m okay with that.
  4. Don’t rush the ending. This is what editing is for! Currently, book 1 feels like I rushed to the end and half of the book exists in the last handful of chapters. All will be fixed soon.
  5. Focus, focus, focus. Yes, this is the goal. Unlike the original incarnation of this novel, which accomplished the goal about halfway through and then wandered through Neverland for the remainder, I have an overarching goal and an individual goal for each book. I just have to outline and plan and stay on target!

This makes me feel a little more confident about getting back to it.

My plan now is to just start outlining book 2. If I hit a snag, I’ll have to figure something else out, but for now, I’m going to plot out the chapters the way I did for book 1. I found this great group of videos from Autumn Writing, and using the Three Act Structure, it’s fairly easy to plot out chapters. It’s what I did for book 1. We’ll see if it works as well for book 2! I’ll let you know!

~ Effy


It Only Took Me 20 Years


My May update is a little bit early, because…

Drumroll please…

I finished the first draft of my novel!

May Flowers Tally

May-Writing Tracking

The numbers:

  • Starting May 1st: 29,773 words
  • Ending May 19th: 41,496 words
  • April Total: 11,723 words
  • Average: 651 words/day

It’s pretty amazing to think that I wrote more words in the first three weeks of May then I did in all of April. But as hard as it was to get to the finish line—it sure seemed to go real, real slow at the end—I was sucked into the story at this point. Similar to when you get near the end of a book you’re reading, I kept at it and I kept coming back. I was able to sit down nearly every night and squeeze a few words out.

The end even took a slightly different turn than I expected it to, which was a pleasant surprise. Though, it will probably mean more editing in the second draft.

What This Means

As crazy as it is to think about, I started writing this novel in middle school. That means this novel is over 20 years in the making! It’s an incredible feeling to be at this point. I’m not finished, but this is the furthest I’ve ever been with anything more than a few thousand words.

To think that I’ve had these characters in my head for that long. To think I got the crazy idea in my head back in January—after months of looking at houses and going through a huge move—to pull out my old, original manuscript (hand-written by a pre-teen) and reread it. To think I started pre-writing with no idea what I was doing with a novel, because I’ve only ever finished short stories. To think I just started writing it in February. To think that now, in May, it’s a start-to-finish piece of writing—rough, but finished.

I’ve gone through a name change of my main character’s magical power—from Magefire to Jadeflare. This came about in large part because of the suggestion of Philip Athans, whose Worldbuilding class I took. He mentioned it seemed a little overused, and though I couldn’t find it used exactly anywhere, I knew it was a good suggestion if it even felt generic.

I’ve spent the last year and a half or so reworking and improving the way my world’s past and present fit together, how magic works, and the magical creatures that roam there.

I’ve worked through the ups and downs of weaving a story that makes sense plot-wise and within the confines of my world’s perimeters—sometimes tearing my hair in frustration and sometimes squeeing in delight at my lightbulb moments.

What Now?

Everywhere I’ve read, it’s been suggested to set aside my manuscript for a few weeks before I start editing it. It is proving very difficult to stay away, I’m very invested in my story at this point, but I’m trying.

This weekend, I wanted to start pre-writing the second book in my series. I quickly realized that it was going to be difficult to pre-write book 2 when I’m not entirely set on how book 1 is going to end up when I’m all said and done. (I still have a lot of editing, including major structural and plot pieces, to do yet.) So I spent some time fiddling with maps and writing down as much as I know so far about books 2, 3, and 4.

If I can at least get down a good idea of what my final plot structure for book 1 will be, I think I can feel more confident about starting book 2.

I’ve thought about working on some short stories or other little ideas I have, but I can’t seem to pull myself away from Jadeflare. As much as I want to put together an ebook of short stories, origin stories, and dragons, I can’t seem to pull myself out of Lakeerae’s head.

So I guess I’m stuck, and you’re all stuck with me talking about my process some more.🙂

~ Effy

Confessions of an eBook Reader


Over recent months, I’ve been trying to read more, and more importantly, I’ve been trying to expand my book bubble outside of my comfort zone. Not necessarily out of my fantasy comfort zone, but at least out of my current favorite authors comfort zone. To help with this, I’ve signed up for a few daily ebook emails—eReader News Today, Book Barbarian, Book Bub, and Book Shout. These newsletters bring me a daily dose of new authors, usually the first book of a series, for cheap or free. It’s given me the courage to expand.

Not only has it sparked some ideas for my own stories by pushing me to think outside of where I’ve gone so far with my fantasy world and my current novel, but it’s made me realize a few things about what catches my interest as a reader. In turn, this has helped change some of my ideas of what’s important for marketing a book.

Here’s a few of the things I’ve realized through the process of finding and reading ebooks.

Judging a Book by its Cover

We’re told all our lives that “judging a book by its cover” is a bad thing. With people, I totally agree. But with books, there might be something to it at least I unconsciously seem to think so. I’m definitely drawn to a book cover that capture my attention. When I’m quickly scanning these daily ebook newsletters, there’s only a few factors I have to go by—cover image, title, book blurb, and price. Sometimes there’s a rating too, which I also find helpful. But like with scanning anything, the most attractive cover image is going to catch the eye first.

This is what started me reading the last series I started. Eleanor, by S.F. Burgess, has a simple yet beautiful cover. As it turns out, it was so good, I bought the second book.

So whatever lies between the covers of the book, the cover has to be the first thing to captivate the reader’s attention.

A Captivating Beginning

One thing that getting a handful of books per week for cheap or free means is that I have the ability to scan the first half dozen pages (or maybe not even that far) to see if a book feels worthy of my time and attention. If it doesn’t suck me in right away—either because of a lack of action, uninteresting characters, or difficult to read prose (either because of language or typos)—then it’s on to the next book. Some of these free books I’ve downloaded will probably never be read because of this.

Getting PoV Right

Maybe it’s the control freak in me, but I’ve realized I’m a bit particular about point of view, almost as much as I am about a book being polished of typos.

I prefer the same point of view to read as I do write—third person limited.

The book I’m currently reading is Born of Water, by Autumn M. Birt. I’m greatly enjoying the characters and story, but the point of view is distracting. It’s written in third person, kind of half limited, half omniscient. The person’s head it’s in changes within the same scene, sometimes it stays the same for a few paragraphs, sometimes a few pages. Sometimes I have to double back to see who was thinking what. Amazingly, the rest of the story’s elements somehow override everything else and I’m almost through book one.

For my own writing, I’ve become fond of the third person limited, and changing the point of view at scene changes. To note whose point of view the scene takes place, I always start with the first sentence naming the PoV character. ie. “Lakeerae sat down beside the crackling fire.” It allows me to get deeply into the character’s point of view, and it is important to me to know what the character is thinking and why they think they and others do what they do.

How to Write a Series

The sticky part of writing a series is making it work both as individual books and as a whole. Each book should be able to stand on its own and contribute to and move forward the series. I’m very particular about reading books in order, but it’s also important for a reader to be able to pick up the series from any point and know who’s who and what’s going on.

There’s nothing worse than a series cliffhanger that makes you feel like the author is trying to con you into reading their next book.

Book Hangover

One problem I discovered with my current way of finding books is that I haven’t been paying adequate attention to how many books might be in the series I’m starting. Or whether all of those books have been published yet.

It results in a wicked book hangover and makes it difficult to start a new book series.

I’m also not the most patient person, particularly when it comes to reading part of a series and then having to wait for the later books. I’ve been burned with this a few times, some series longer than others. I got really into the Cinder series, by Marissa Meyer. Three books in, I discovered the fourth book wasn’t published yet. Thankfully, I only had to wait a few months. I’ve waited much longer for book five and now book six of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, by George R. R. Martin.

I’m always worried I’ll lose track or interest in a series if I don’t read them consecutively.

This has made me wondering if I should reconsider how I plan to release my novels when they’re edited and ready for publishing. Should I spare my (future) readers the frustration of waiting for unknown periods of time for the rest of the series? Should I wait and release them all together?

It’s an appealing idea. I don’t need the money. I have a job I don’t plan to leave anytime in the foreseeable future. I know it would push back the timetables, but it might be less stressful—once I release one, I’d feel pressured and obligated to write the others as quickly as possible.

Conclusion: Publishing Ideas

I know I’ve got some time to consider how I want to go about publishing and marketing my books, but it’s never too early to start thinking about these things. So what have I learned that can help me?

  1. I need a great cover and book blurb to convince readers to buy my book.
  2. I need a captivating beginning that makes sure my reader doesn’t put it down.
  3. I need a well-edited book that is as error-free as possible.
  4. I need to write in a good and deep point of view for my book.
  5. I need a complete series that is satisfying both individually and as a whole.
  6. I need to decide whether I’ll release my books one at a time or all together.

I think these are good things to consider as I write and edit.

Speaking of a good book blurb, I have a first draft of it for my first book:

Jadeflare—an uncommon magic fed by the elements themselves.

Now it is in the hands of a stubborn, reluctant young druid fleeing from a dark creature that is killing others of her kind. With the help of her loyal wolf companion, an aloof hawk, and a sharp-tongued gypsy, Lakeerae must stop the dark creature before it hunts her down. Her journey will take her from the safety of her home to black places ruled by her nightmares.

Will she be strong enough to bring light back to the darkness?

Please let me know what you think. Too much? Interesting enough? Suggestions?

~ Effy

April Showers Writing Update


I decided to continue on the heels of March’s success and continue to aim for 300 words per day in April.

The Tally

First the numbers:

  • Starting April 1st: 18,770 words
  • Ending April 30th: 29,773 words
  • April Total: 11,003 words
  • Average: 367 words/day

The numbers are pretty close to March’s, but that’s only because the beginning of April went great. The second week of April, I had my best writing week, over 4500 words, averaging more than twice my goal, 654 words/day.

Then, for almost two weeks, I found myself gripped tightly in the claws of the dreaded writer’s block. Writer’s block wasn’t the only issue either. It was a maddening combination of being tired, not feeling good, and lacking motivation. I have to wonder if it was also partly because I’d been pushing myself so hard and had written so much the week before. Or maybe it’s just because I’m getting so close to completing my first draft.

I tried to combat my writer’s block with other forms of self-motivation: reading, drawing maps, and playing with typography and calligraphy pens. In the end, the only thing that really worked was forcing myself to sit down and write.

Trying Out Scrivener

Early in the month, I decided to give in to writer peer pressure and try out Scrivener. I moved over fifteen or so chapters, including my notes, just those attached to specific scenes and lines and words that had been scattered throughout the Google Doc I was writing in originally.

I’m not completely sold yet, because I’m far too fond of having all my documents available in Google Drive for easy access from anywhere—work, my phone, my tablet. I’m the queen of multiple tabs, and I usually have two instances of Chrome (with my two Google accounts) open, both with 5+ tabs. So I only have my actual novel and its in-document notes in Scrivener.

However, if Scrivener makes it easier to turn my novel into an ebook, it will all be worth it.

Nearing the Finish Line

I surpassed 30k words, and I estimate I’m about 80% of the way through my first draft for Book 1. This worries me to a point, because it means my story will need some serious beefing up to make the epic fantasy goal of 90k+ words. Luckily, I found an article that helped me feel a little bit better about this, and it has fueled me with some ideas of what I can do to lengthen it already.

Now, the difficult part has become pushing myself forward to complete the first draft before I start editing what’s already there. I think this is slowing me down from getting to the finish line, as my notebook fills with these many little ideas.

In fact, brainstorming to finish book 1 led to trying to better flesh out books 2 and 3, which led to changing my mind about the titles for all three books, which led to changing how I originally thought book 1 would end, which led to changing this from a trilogy to a four book series. All of this is leading to more edits once I finish the first draft of book 1.

All good changes, changes that excite me because I know they’ll make the whole story more coherent and stronger, but still frustrate me because I keep feeling I’m slowing myself down. I really can’t fault ideas that will make it better in the long run though.

Closing Out April

I’ve had some stumbling points, but I met my goals for April.

I think May might be the month that I finish my first draft, if I can keep up my 300 words per day. I hope for that to be the update I give in a few more weeks.

~ Effy

March Madness Writing Update


My goal at the beginning of March was 300 words per day on my novel. Despite missing writing completely a few days and not reaching my goals on some others, I still surpassed my goal with the help of the writing I did on the weekends.

The Tally

033116-Writing Tracker

So here are the numbers:

  • Before March 1st: 7505 words
  • Ending March 31st: 18,770 words
  • March total: 11,265 words
  • Average: 376 words/day


So to continue this great success, my goal is to continue my average of 300 words per day through April.

Improving My Efficiency

Late in March, I started tracking my words per hour. I realized that when I write in the living room, which usually means the TV is on in the background, I average about 300 words/hour. I manage about twice that if I “hide” in the bedroom to write, or anytime I’m only listening music instead of the TV.

I’m even more productive on the weekend. Is this because it’s first thing in the morning? Cuz I’m by myself? Cuz I’m not still focused on the work day and how exhausted I am? Or does it all come down to the distractions while I write? I think I’m far more productive to music than having the TV on, which isn’t that surprising.

I started tracking these extra things because of a great book I’m reading right now: 2,000 to 10,000 by Rachel Aaron. Her suggestions for increasing words are threefold:

  1. Knowledge: I’ve been spending 5+ minutes when I first sit down writing about what I’m going to write about. This both gets me into my writing mood and gives me a general skeleton of the upcoming scene.
  2. Time: I’ve been tracking my writing time on a spreadsheet—expanding this to include start time, end time, words, where I wrote, etc.
  3. Enthusiasm: I’ve been trying to get excited about what I’m writing—each and every scene needs to be exciting, because if I’m not excited, readers won’t be either.

When I’m not writing, I’ve been brainstorming in my notebook and reading whatever I can find on pre-writing, scheduling writing time, and maximizing my writing time. I recently read Writing Scary Scenes by Rayne Hall. It had some great suggestions for increasing tension, helpful to my novel because I’m leaning toward making it more of a dark fantasy blended with epic/high fantasy. I also found interesting article called Three Things to Do Before Before You Write a Book. It had some good information and led to an idea I’m still working at incorporating into my novel’s growing collection of documents—the Snowflake Method’s scene spreadsheet. I combined this with a suggestion about scenes from 2,000 to 10,000:

  • Break action down into scenes
  • Group the scenes into chapters
  • Make sure chapter breaks increase dramatic tense

Organizing My Writing

Currently, I’m doing all my writing on my Google Drive. I find it to be the best place to keep all of my writing and documents easily accessible from anywhere—be it my computer or my phone, home or work. It also allows me to write in a “no distractions” mode: CTRL+SHIFT+F to compact the doc controls and F11 to put my computer into Fullscreen mode.

I tend to over organize and I’m very particular. So my novel isn’t the only document I’m using. I have notes and spreadsheets galore:

  1. Novel doc
    • Confession: This is probably going to sound odd and even silly, but I realized that I write better on my novel with a page format that more closely resembles an actual mass media sized paperback page. On the Google Drive docs, I found a page size called “Statement” that is 5.5” x 8.5” and works perfect, rather than the standard 8.5” x 11”. It throws off my page counts and average words per page, but it seems to work better for me visually. I swear my word counts have improved since I did this.
  2. Dadreon World Notes doc
    • Jadeflare isn’t my only work in my fantasy world of Dadreon, and it’s a fantasy world I’ve been building since middle school. In recent years, it’s taken on more dimension and has started fitting together better. This doc includes gods, elements and magic, races and monsters, history, setting, etc.
  3. Theme & Outline doc
    • Part of my pre-writing, this doc includes my theme sentence, thematic words, genre info, target length, and a basic chapter outline.
  4. Scene List spreadsheet
    • This spreadsheet consists of one line for each scene, including scene number, chapter number, PoV, description, and estimated pages.
  5. Story Bible doc
    • This doc worked awesome for getting me started. It helped me ask questions that I would have missed. But now it seems too complicated to refer to regularly, and I’ve been mostly using the Theme & Outline and Scene List.
  6. Writing Tracker spreadsheet
    • This spreadsheet consists of one line for each day, including day of the week, date, start and end time, hours, writing location, words written, words/hour, writing project, and novel total.
  7. Paper Maps
    • I love maps. I love drawing maps. This is probably one of my favorite parts of worldbuilding. No, I don’t draw them in Google Drive, but I’ve started saving the majority of my files here too.
  8. Paper Sketches
    • Whenever I have an idea, I sketch it into my notebook. Sometimes it turns into a color drawing that ends up on the Google Drive.
  9. Pinterest board for Jadeflare
    • I recently read a great idea for organizing thoughts and themes—Pinterest. I wish I could remember where I got this great idea, because I’d love to give her the credit she deserves. I’ve had a Pinterest account for a while now, but this really gave me a great reason to use it. This is a collection of images that relate to my characters, settings, and plot and give me a nice visual reference.

Closing Out March

My birthday month was hugely successful. I’m making great progress in my novel. In fact, Saturday, I hit 20k words!

I think a combination of improving my writing habits and focusing on writing without constantly editing is really helping my progress. If I can stay focused on these things, I think this novel will actually get written!

Expect more updates from me soon.

~ Effy

Why I Don’t Write?


The other day an author I follow shared a writing prompt to write about “Why I Write.” I realized this comes up often, and that I’ve already written about that, probably several times in several ways. However, I’ve never written about what keeps me from writing—what scares me enough to stop me from lifting a pen (or sitting at the keyboard).

I thought Why I Don’t Write would make a more appropriate questions and post after my long hiatus.

During the winter semester last year (it’s literally been almost a year since I wrote here!), I wrote a lot and I felt my work became better developed for it—my world of Dadreon became more developed. Between Creative Writing (and the huge number of assignments in that class), Horror & Sci Fi, and Mythology, I had lots to inspire me and deadlines to motivate me.

Then, I started Kristen of She’s Novel’s 30 Day Author Up Challenge. It went well in the short lull between my winter and spring classes. Granted, it took up a LOT of time—writing a blog post everyday—but it felt good. Even if many of the posts didn’t feel as polished as I prefer, I had goals and deadlines.

Then, spring got underway. I got busy with both school and work. Spring turned into summer and now here it is spring again. Of course, I bought a house in the interim. But school, work, and house hunting turned into almost a year of my blog sitting untouched.

The wider that gap between my last published post and today became, the more difficult to pick up my pen/keyboard. Even when I did have time, I didn’t use it to write.

Why is that? I’ve always been happiest when I’m writing. I’ve been writing all my life—albeit on and off—and I’ve always received positive feedback on my writing.

I think the process of writing that last sentence says a lot. I had to rewrite and reword it several times. My confidence is not what it should be, that’s for sure.

My work sits hidden on my Google Drive or slightly less hidden here on my blog, in this tiny corner of the internet, obscure and unpublished. Family and friends give me positive reinforcement, and occasionally I have the opportunity to share something with a class. (Max’s class last winter was the most I’ve ever shared my work face to face.) But for some reason, I lack faith in my abilities, lately especially.

It’s easy to lose faith in the lulls it seems.

So I ponder further the question of Why I Don’t Write?

  • Writing is hard and requires a lot of work. Without deadlines I tend to lack the ambition to work that hard, to push myself. After my more than full time winter school schedule, plus working, I think I broke my ambition for a while.
  • Social media is so much easier to waste time on. I can spend five minutes or an hour. I can mindlessly scan and not have to come up with anything witty or even coherent if I don’t want to.
  • I get lost in a loop of not knowing what to write RIGHT NOW. For months, I made progress through my stories. Now I feel like I have to play catch up, find new things to write about, and it’s paralyzing.
  • Because of this paralysis, I’ve become bogged down in negative self-talk: I’m never going to go anywhere with this. I’m not good enough. It’s a waste of time. I don’t have anything worthwhile to say. I can’t make the words fit together right. I’ll never get published. I’m too old.

My first step toward beating back this self-doubt and paralysis was starting a new, hand-written journal. I slowly started building myself back to writing regularly by writing there.

In fact, this blog post started in that little journal.

Another thing to help motivate me was to finally take the advice of several of the writers that I follow to create a schedule and write every day.

After we got moved, I found some of my boxes of books and notebooks. I realized that with all of the time I’ve devoted to writing over the past few years, I’ve not tried to finish any of the novels that have been in my head since middle school. I’ve spent all this time focusing on world-building and short stories.

But those will never make me a true “published” author.

So about two months ago, I reread my original version of the novel (all 200 rambling, handwritten pages of it) and started pre-writing. One of my favorite writers to follow, Kristen over at She’s Novel, put together a workbook for pre-writing. It sparked new ideas and facets of the novel I’d never thought of. It expanded my world further and improved the depth of my characters.

Then, I further improved my theme and outline with the help of Autumn Writing.

At the beginning of February, I started writing my novel.

At the beginning of March, I made the commitment to myself to write an average of one page, or 300 words, per day.

I’m trying to write every night, but I’m finding some weeknights I’m so exhausted that my brain just can’t do it. I’ve been making up my words on the weekend, though. So I’m starting to wonder if it makes more sense to give myself a weekly goal, rather than a daily goal—still aim for writing every day, but give myself a break if I miss a day.

Consistency has definitely been one of my biggest stumbling blocks.

I think giving myself more leeway is the way to keep myself on track. I need goals and deadlines, but if I miss one here or there it can’t beat myself up and fall into the all or nothing trap. That’s usually where I fall off the writing wagon. I’ll start a challenge or make a goal and once I miss one day or one post, I feel like I’ve failed and there’s no reason to go on.

I think that’s the biggest reason Why I Don’t Write.

The best example of this was falling behind on the Author Up Challenge. I turned my failure into ten months of not writing on my blog. I can’t let that happen again.

My novel is my top priority. But I also need to give myself the breathing room to miss a day without crumbling. I also have other options for writing on nights that I’m not feeling the novel—my journal or writing a short story or distracting myself with a blog post.

If nothing else, I’ll keep you up to date here with my novel progress.

Currently, I’m on Chapter 11 and I’m 15,993 words in. Since March 1st, I’m averaging 424 words per day.

~ Effy

Author Up Challenge – Day 16

Full Moon

Welcome back to the Author Up Challenge!

I’m going to cheat a little bit. I’m using Day 16 and 17 on one story idea. So today will be the first part, and it will be concluded in my next post.

Today’s prompt was:

Day 16: Write a Mystery

So enjoy this first half and I’ll get the second half posted ASAP.

~ Effy


Sharp slashes, not those of a single knife but many as from razor-edged claws, sliced across. Disembodied red lines appeared, followed by a disembodied female scream that inspired gooseflesh. Blood, blood like paint, splattered across the walls. It created spots and blotches that dripped and ran to the floor, forming rivulets that formed streams that collected into pools. The pools grew until they soaked his barefeet.

Looking down upon the puddle of red, he saw furred and clawed paws instead of toes.

Another scream echoed, but this time it was his own.

Phelan jerked awake. He battled his way from beneath the tangled covers, both of them soaked with sweat. The covers came loose, but only as he toppled from the bed and hit the floor with a crack as his right elbow struck first.

A string of curses followed.

Phelan flattened himself against the cool wooden floor planks, letting it wick away the heat of his tense body, but still gripping his throbbing elbow. The chill relaxed him and his breathing gradually returned to normal.

The man opened his eyes, not that it accomplished much. The room was black, along with the rest of the world outside the one small window where the moons and stars were obscured by clouds.

The light patter of rain began. It soothed Phelan back to sleep, right where he lie on the floor, his feet still tangled in the covers.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The sun sat high and hot in the sky by the time Phelan awake again.

He rolled up the strewn blanket and tossed it onto the bed in a lump. The effort tore a yawn from him, and Phelan realized he could have continued to sleep. The stretched out the stiffness of his shoulders and shook off the urge to crawl back into bed.

It had been a few weeks since he’d gone into town, and his kitchen was bare. Time to see what needed done, who needed what fixed, and see if it would be enough to eat on for another few weeks.

When Phelan got to the barn, Bronte was trying to nuzzle into a bale of hay just out of his reach. The brown gelding nickered affectionately as the man approached. He sniffed for any tasty presents, of which Phelan had none, and snorted.

“Sorry, boy. That’s why we’re going to town.”

He opened the stall door and Bronte trotted out and straight to the hay. Phelan brushed him and saddled him while he ate. Then, they left for town.

Phelan found plenty of odd tasks around town. One of Hadden’s cows had damaged the fence again, there was a leaky spot in Kert’s barn roof, and Laufe had a number of horses needing new shoes. He kept busy throughout the day, and planned to stay over into the next.

While he worked, everyone was talking about the giant animal that had attacked Dewie’s oldest daughter, Mian. It had to be a bear from the description of the mess it had left behind. Phelan winced at such a callous way to even think about the remains of the poor girl.

He remembered more than one night being invited to their table for dinner, part of his payment for helping out around their farm. Mian had always been a quiet but happy girl, quick to smile and quick to laugh. She could only have seen sixteen or seventeen winters.

Phelan swore as he hammered his thumb instead of the nail. Pay attention, he scowled himself.

But he couldn’t shake the images from his previous night’s dream, and the scream.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

That evening, Phelan took his meal at the tavern. Saundra chatted with him at the bar in between her other customers. They talked about nothing of real importance, except Mian again. Her fate was on everyone’s lips.

“Poor girl,” Saundra murmured again. “Poor Dewie and Kitt.” She shook her head and her brown tresses brushed the top of the bartop, her head propped lightly in her right hand.

The door opened, and Saundra looked up. Phelan glanced too, eager for a distraction from the morbid topic.

Kert led four other men into the tavern and they headed straight for where Saundra and Phelan sat. Saundra had turned all the way around to face them, and gave them an amicable smile despite their deep scowls. “Looking for a drink to take the edge off, gentlemen? It’s looking to be a dark night, my tavern’s bright and warm.”

Putting a polite hand up to stop her, Kert shook his head. “Apologies, Saundra, but we’re not here to drink. We’re here for Phelan.”

Phelan’s stomach did a sickening flip-flop.

Kert turned his gaze on the man. “We’re going out after this bear, before it can attack anymore people. We could use you if you’re staying in town tonight?”

Phelan started breathing again. “Of course.”

“We’d like to get a start before the sun goes down, but it’s going to be a long night.”

To Be Continued…

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This story and all related material are the original works of Awaiting the Muse and Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti. All rights reserved.
Creative Commons License
Awaiting the Muse by Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at https://awaitingthemuse.wordpress.com/.

Author Up Challenge – Day 15

A Fantasy City, by Wildweasel339 at Deviant Art

A Fantasy City, by Wildweasel339 at Deviant Art

Look, two days in a row! It seems lately that the weekends are the only time I can accomplish that. I’m getting this one posted nice and early too, because I have breakfast and movie plans for this morning.🙂

Welcome to Day 15 of the Author Up Challenge!

Today’s prompt was:

Day 15: Write a Dystopian Scene.

This follows directly on the heels of yesterday’s prologue piece, literally. It’s the first scene of chapter one from the same novel. The opening of my book after the prologue has seen a heavy amount of revision. I cut out several scenes to start with this opening fight scene. It will then switch to two other characters who will then join the main scene.

Originally, chapter one started in a tavern, with the two elves being overheard. I realized the weakness of this scene, despite its existence for 20+ years, so I updated it, ruthlessly. (Chop, chop, chop.)

This is really only a small introduction to the dystopian nature of my fantasy as it exists in this book, particularly for the elves. It really focuses more on the prejudices they face.

It ended up shorter than I expected, but only because it is one small piece of a scene that will get longer soon(TM).

I enjoy writing action scenes. I think my greatest inspiration in that regard has been R.A. Salvatore and his Drizzt series. He does action well. So I look forward to writing the rest of this one.

~ Effy

Search for the Elves of Haliaetus (Chapter 1 Excerpt — Rewrite)

“What do we have here?” asked the ugliest human Rynnan had ever seen. “Looks like these aren’t really people, but faerie-folk.”

Rynnan cringed at the ignorant man’s prejudiced words.

Another human, reeking of ale as if it oozed from his very pores, pawed at Laurana’s hair. His other hand tightly gripped a knife to her neck, his knuckles white with the effort. He had tugged her hood out of place just enough to uncover a long pointed ear and confirm the identity of her and her elven companion.

Rynnan had known the sun was getting low, but thought they had enough time to finish their supply run before it disappeared, and their disguises with it. The sun was below the horizon now, its energy no longer helpful even though the sky still held some of its fading light.

“I suggest you remove your hands from my friend, or I will make sure you never wield that knife again,” Rynnan said, his tone threatening and his voice a snarl.

“Whatcha gonna do, faerie?” the one with the knife asked. “You going to magick me?”

“I would not waste my energies so,” Rynnan replied. “I am more than capable of handling you without magic or weapons.”

“Oh, really? And me too?” the ugly one asked.

“Don’t forget about me, pig,” Laurana said, almost spitting the words. She kicked her foot out, smashing it into the ugly one’s chin.

The human spit a mouthful of blood from a bitten tongue. “You shouldn’t have done that, lovely,” he said in a threatening tone. “Now we’re going to have to scar up that pretty face.”

His friend, the one with the knife, gave a smile that illustrated his ill-intentions. He lightly traced the knife along Laurana’s cheek, leaving a line of red blood behind it. “Won’t be so pretty when I’m done.”

Exchanging a look with Rynnan, Laurana drove her heel back hard into the human’s crotch. Seizing in pain, he loosened his grip enough for Laurana to slip out of it. She twisted his arm, causing the knife to clatter to the hard-packed dirt road, and continued to turn and pull, taking the man with her and breaking his arm when his body stopped and his arm kept going.

Rynnan used the distraction to punch the ugly human in the throat. The man tried to shout and it came out as a gurgled wheeze. He reached for the elf, and Rynnan slid back, just out of reach. The ugly human almost overbalanced and fell, but caught himself and reached for something at his waist. Rynnan kicked him in the gut, and the ugly human doubled over and hit the ground instead.

Laurana had her foot on the other human’s throat. “I suggest you forget you saw us, friend,” she hissed.

“Hmm,” Rynnan murmured, looking over Laurana’s shoulder. “I think we have already brought more attention to ourselves.”

The female elf snapped her head around and made a face. Three more humans had noticed the altercation and approached them. Tugging her hood up higher around her face, despite it being too late to hide her ears and her race from the humans, Laurana sighed. “Looks like we overstayed our welcome here.”

“You sure did, faeries,” the ugly human croaked from the ground, clawing at the dirt and trying to pull himself up. “Now, we’re going to make you wish you never left your faerie trees.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This story and all related material are the original works of Awaiting the Muse and Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti. All rights reserved.
Creative Commons License
Awaiting the Muse by Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at https://awaitingthemuse.wordpress.com/.

Author Up Challenge – Day 14

An Optes

An Optes, by Effy


Welcome back! Today I’m posting Day 14 of the Author Up Challenge. I apologize for not being more consistent. School and work have my brain–and my ambition–fried most days.

Today’s prompt was, simply:

Day 14: Write a Fantasy.

The extended part of the prompt was to explain magic or a monster without breaking the action of a scene. Sounds simple enough.

You would think with all of the fantasy I write this would have been the easiest and quickest written prompt, but no. This took a lot of thought and brainstorming and research through older pieces of mine. Because after posting the prologue to Magefire, I am excited to start working on some of my original novels. So I pulled out all of the old manuscripts and printouts, got lost in their wonderful old paper smell, and realized they needed work.

In the end, I decided on another prologue. These make good blog posts, I feel, because they’re short and meant to be self-contained yet draw you into a larger story.

I’m not 100% happy with where it is currently, but it’s getting there.

The image above is a pen drawing I did of a D&D beholder way back. I realized I really can’t use a beholder in my own stories. So I researched some different ideas. I decided to call him an “optes,” because it is short for “Panoptes” (meaning “all-seeing”) which was the epithet of Argus, a many-eyed giant from Greek myth. I think that would make the plural of “optes” possibly “optii” but I’m not sure yet.

~ Effy

Search for the Elves of Haliaetus — Prologue (Rewrite)

Khushia, send a fire, maybe a crop fire, to break up this monotony, King Krell-Ekam thought. He scolded himself, glad he’d not spoken such a reckless wish aloud. Then he sighed, knowing Maeyv would have laughed along with him at the joke, no matter how poor its taste or serious the possible consequences.

It had only been a week, but he felt she’d been gone too long, away visiting her parents. Some days, she seemed the only one who could make him smile.

Despite the bustle of the palace and the many people in it, there was little to occupy Krell, except absently stroking the soft leaves of a potted fern to the rhythm of his thoughts. The elves had spent hundreds of years fighting and building towards their hidden existence in Haliaetus. They kept away from the humans and stayed within the shifting paths and protective boughs of the Lost Vale. There had been no recent conflicts, thankfully, despite the ever stricter laws King Maht enforced regarding the elves and those who sympathized with them. Eventually, Krell knew Maht would tire of his hatred from afar and escalate things yet again.

But not today it seemed.

The tall aspen doors to the throne room opened, and a blonde elf hurried to where Krell sat, bowing apologetically. His light chainmail tinkled and shimmered in the sunlight as he moved. “Your majesty.” His breath was labored.

“Yes, Merith, continue if you’re able. What is it?” Krell asked.

“Dark elves… Attacking the city…” he managed between breaths.

Krell scowled, the lines of his aging face deepening. “How…?” he began, but stopped himself. It hardly mattered. What mattered was driving them out again.

He stood and his turquoise robes, disrupted from their peaceful lounging, swirled around his slight but solid frame. Krell’s grey eyes flashed with smoldering anger, matching the silvery wisps brushing his shoulders.

“Lead the way, and gather the palace guards as we go. I’ll not sit back while they destroy my city. We must find Grandag–if he bothered to come–and put an end to this.” These cowardly raids have gone on for far too long, he continued silently. And now, they’re not only raiding just inside the Vale, but within Haliaetus! By the time he finished the thought, he was gripping the doorknob to exit the throne room.

An odd prickle caressed the back of Krell’s neck and an unplaceable foreboding settled upon him.

Merith stood only a few steps behind him.

He pushed down the sudden anxiety and threw open the doors, three times his height, but still not brushing the high open ceiling.

Krell first noticed a lack of guards outside the door, and second the lack of anyone in the halls. There should have been many elves fortifying it, Merith would surely have brought all who could be spared.

The prickle returned and with a frown, King Krell pivoted on his heel.

The elf who looked like Merith Quickblade pulled his lips up into a sardonic smirk that darkened his features. It was a look Krell had never seen from his trusted advisor. The face began to transform, the only thing that remained was the hideous smile, and Krell confirmed the source of his unease.


“I hate to disappoint.” The dark-skinned elf’s voice flowed like silk over silk as the smile widened. Grandag paced a few steps to his left then back to the right, his ebony robe slithering like an obedient snake behind him.

Krell’s face remained impassive. “What have you done with Merith?”

Grandag cackled and cut it off sharply. “Even with your fate and the fate of your dear Haliaetus so tenuous, still your subjects are foremost. So noble.” He paused to let the sarcasm of that word settle. “So stupid.” A contemptuous look replaced the smile.

Krell waited silently for him to finish.

Grandag’s dark eyes flickered over Krell’s rigid form, disappointed at the lack of response. “You’ll be glad to know I find it more amusing he be alive to tell the others how effortlessly you and your city fell to me after all these years. Then, they are next. Trigerius, Braesinus, they will fall even easier.” The smile returned.

Gripping his hand into a fist, Krell summoned the energy of the sun cascading onto his shoulders. It fell on every inch of the palace, through the vaulted glass ceilings above. Yellow light suffused him, stirring his hair and causing his hand to glow with its potential.

Shaking his head, disappointment lining his face, Grandag said, “I thought we were having such a lovely conversation and here you think to attack me. For shame, Krell.”

In one quick movement, the dark elf flicked a small amount of dust into the air and murmured the words of a spell, his hand sparking with fuschia light and the dust incinerating before it could hit the ground. Unnatural blackness surrounded Krell and the power that had been forming in his hand winked out along with it. Krell flinched at the sudden loss.

“Better, but hardly any fun if you can’t see. Don’t you agree?”

Krell’s vision returned, but the palace remained dark. Grandag’s blackness hung like a cloud above them.

“Much better on the eyes,” Grandag said, looking up at his work.

Knowing his disadvantage, Krell’s mind fought for another means of escape. That small hope disappeared when a floating creature detached from the murk. Spherical and covered with eye stalks and greyish chitin plating, the bloated thing offended his every sense. In the center of the eyes, which snaked and peered in every direction, blinked a giant, blood-red eye that held his gaze hypnotically and a gaping jagged-toothed maw that seemed to grin at him.

An optes. Krell groaned inwardly. When did Grandag ally with such detestable creatures?

“Your guards were most flavorful, especially given their valiant but feeble attacks,” the optes growled in a deep, resonating voice that made made Krell think of boulders colliding together.

Another dark elf, a woman with short white hair, ran down the hall and stopped before Grandag. Her axe and chainmail were both stained red, and Krell flinched at the sight. Bowing briefly, her icy blue eyes flashing with the mirth of her smile, she said, “The elves are retreating into the forest. I forbade my men to follow–we know only the one path and thought the elves might lure them into traps.”

“Yes, good, Tara. Burn the city to the ground. Let them watch from their trees.” Grandag’s face lit up.

“Yes, milord. And the palace?” She flicked her cold gaze over Krell before it returned to Grandag.

“As soon as Xranth and I have left with our honored guest, you may level it as well.”

Tara nodded and left the way she’d come.

Grandag looked back the Krell, his smile sending a cold chill down the light elf’s spine. “Xranth, please make our guest comfortable for his journey.” Then, Grandag began to walk away.

Krell stiffened, his eyes meeting the central one of the optes. It was closer, moving silently through the air, and Krell had to swallow down the bile rising in his throat.

One of the smaller eyes snaked around and filled Krell’s vision. His eyes grew heavy and he knew no more.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This story and all related material are the original works of Awaiting the Muse and Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti. All rights reserved.
Creative Commons License
Awaiting the Muse by Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at https://awaitingthemuse.wordpress.com/.

Author Up Challenge – Day 13

Gaming Mouse

Welcome to Day 13 of the Author Up Challenge!

Today’s prompt was:

Day 13: Write Science Fiction.

I’ve written science fiction pieces before, but this prompt was really tough. And it’s still not “true” science fiction–there’s no explanations of techie things in it. But I found some prompts on writepop.com that sparked some ideas. So I choose one. It is at the end of this post, because I wanted to at least tempt to not spoil the story. Too bad I can’t make it expanding text–so that you have to click on it to see/read it. Oh well.

This certainly isn’t my favorite of pieces I’ve written recently, it needs more work, but I think it turned out okay.

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

~ Effy

Online Dating

After three weeks of engaging conversation and so much in common, Erika wondered if it was too quick to ask to meet Ryan. He hadn’t brought up the subject yet. In fact, she didn’t even know where he lived, just that he was local. He knew many of the same stores and restaurants in her small town, even the comic book shop, and she realized maybe she’d run across him at some point.

How weird would that be?

After all the ways they could have met, and maybe they had but didn’t know it, Erika had started talking to Ryan after a chance meeting in World of Warcraft. She’d been herbing on her worgen druid, and he’d snagged a Felweed she’d been about to pick. She got annoyed, but then the offender turned around and came back. A human hunter named Velius opened trade with her and gave her the herb, along with a smile emote.

Erika didn’t know how to reply, except, “Thanks.”

That simple interaction had led to a conversation, somehow. Erika couldn’t even remember how. The guy just started whispering her, and suddenly it was three in the morning and Erika had to peel herself away from the game and the conversation to log off and go to bed.

Then, she’d dragged her tired ass around at work the next day. Ugh. The only thing that got her through was the hope that Velius would be on again.

He was.

They talked until the wee hours again, and Erika learned his name was Ryan. She’d never known many Ryan’s, but it had always been a favorite name of hers. She tried to sneak it into short stories when she could.

Then, to find out he lived near–or perhaps in–her small town.

Ryan admitted he didn’t get out as much as he wanted, between work and other commitments. That made Erika nervous and her stomach queasy. Oh, God, he’s married! But he assured her he wasn’t.

Not that she had much room to say anything. She never got out either. Between working full time and going to school part time, the hours of her day were usually full. If she wasn’t at work or school, she had homework. And on the rare occasion she caught up on that, she stole away the tiny chunks of time to relax, either reading or writing.

Ryan had been thrilled when she’d introduced him to her blog. He seemed to absorb the entirety of it in a few days, and had shared his thoughts on several pieces–both positive and negative, but all constructive and even some insightful things she hadn’t thought of.

They also enjoyed the same music. Which never happened. Usually guys barely tolerated her techno and quickly got tired of it. He knew many of her favorite musicians–Moby and Morcheeba, Bjork and Royksopp, Zero 7 and Massive Attack, Above and Beyond and Armin Van Buuren.

The list of things they shared in common seemed almost impossible, but Erika didn’t complain. She enjoyed it every minute she could. Don’t say it, she thought more than once. Don’t you dare say too perfect.

As she sat at her desk, waiting for Ryan to log on, she mentally worked up the courage to ask him to coffee. Coffee was safe. Coffee was in public, in case by some chance he was some crazy nutjob in real life. Coffee was also short, and meant either one of them could decide on more, beyond coffee, or ending their–date?–there. No, not a date, just coffee. Keep it simple.

Then again, Erika began to ponder, they hadn’t even spoken on Skype or the phone. She started to wonder what Ryan looked like. Maybe that was a better next step. Maybe coffee was too quick, but a phone call, that made sense.

Velius logged on. He was still standing next to Erika’s Druid in the Dwarven District of Stormwind, where they’d last chatted until way too late. She had been too distracted since logging on to move from the spot.

“Evening,” came the whisper text. “I was thinking maybe we could talk on Skype tonight? What do you think?”

Erika blinked. Whoa, did he read my mind or what? She fumbled to untangle her headset and plug it in while she clicked around until Skype opened and logged her in. As soon as she connected, the line began to ring and she picked up.

“Hi!” Ryan said, his smile reaching his sea green eyes and making them sparkle.

Erika had to forced her mouth closed. He was gorgeous. She couldn’t have dreamed him better. Wavy brown hair that hung almost to his ears, but not too messy or too tidy, and a goatee that perfectly outlined his smile.

“Is your audio working?” he asked playfully.

“Oh, yes, sorry,” she sputtered. “Hi.” It sounded lame and flat as it came out of her mouth.

Ryan chuckled. “Oh good. I can hear you.”

“One sec, let me close WoW.” Erika tabbed through the open windows and Stormwind came back into view.

“You can close it later. Let’s just talk for now,” Ryan was saying in the background, but Erika barely heard him. Her screen did not open as she expected. She wasn’t looking through her druid’s point of view, she was looking at her druid–from the view of Ryan’s hunter, Velius.

Ryan had trailed off and become quiet.

“What the hell?” Erika said, her confusion coming out annoyed and verging on angry. “Are you some hacker? How the hell are you logged in on my computer?”

“Well,” he began but stopped.

Erika closed WoW, and Ryan’s face filled her screen again.

“Explain. How are you on my computer?” she asked again.

“Actually, I am your computer,” he admitted with a shrug and an embarrassed grin.

“Oh bugger.” Too perfect, she thought once more.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This story and all related material are the original works of Awaiting the Muse and Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti. All rights reserved.
Creative Commons License
Awaiting the Muse by Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at https://awaitingthemuse.wordpress.com/.
Writing Prompt - Online Boyfriend