Halloween Special: Laoche Drabbles

Madelyn

The scariest part of the season was the exams. The library sat like an empty tomb, devoid of any life as the campus citizens escaped to revelries and momentarily forgot their impending day of reckoning. She set up in the window seat, spreading papers around her as the chai at her elbow grew colder by the minute from the draft. As the leaves turned to wreaths of gold and garnet, she found her mind drifting to more magical times and her fingers straying to the battered storybook at her side. Studies forgotten, she lost herself in the imagery and ink.

Raiden

He haunted the forest. Every year, without fail, tourists disappeared with the cold weather and seasonal stories of spooks. Children would double and triple dare each other to brave its borders. He watched them scatter with amusement as he hiked through his home. He scavenged the dead branches for firewood, picked the last of the allspice berries for the life that they carried, and build small altars to the Creator as he passed to win its protection for him and his sister. Superstition. Spirits. Maybe this year would be the one he met the ghosts that supposedly protected this wood.

Alric

He studied in the graveyard, for both reminder and motivation. Exhaustion dulled the sharpness of his wit and the peace of the place pulled him towards slumber. He didn’t wear a coat against the cold. Too close to failure, so close to success, the stakes driven into his heart – keeping his family fed, and safe, and warm was all that mattered. There was never enough time. He wondered how the names around him used their time. What would he be doing if he weren’t here? His page stretched empty before him. Why did he always have more questions than answers?

Weswin

He didn’t need a mask or a costume. The stranger slipped among the crowd of the pub to the small stage and set his fiddle case on the ground. Fingers danced over the strings and the popular tune floated over the chatter. The bow flashed. For a moment he forgot his curse. The melody tumbled over itself and rushed to a crescendo. They wouldn’t remember him tomorrow. By the end of the performance, brown replaced the red and new scars dotted his face but he didn’t feel them. A walking ghost. They would remember the music, but never his face.

Seth

He spends the afternoon building – the house he inherited made the better for those that would visit. Lights to lead the way, mulled cider to warm and welcome, and treats for any who asked. The winter would be hard but he would make sure his people would have a reason for hope, for fun, and for community, before retreating to their dens. Soon, ghosts, monsters, and characters of all sorts would come by his door, his sword would be ready at his side. And when the young heroes and princesses arrived, he would bow to those greater than he.

I’m excited to be able to introduce some of the main cast of The Laoche Chronicles! I put up polls on my tumblr and IG earlier this week, and you all chose “modern drabbles” for the Halloween Special post, so I hope you enjoyed these! I wanted each of them to be exactly 100 words and a story-accurate snapshot into these character’s personalities while sticking to the spooky theme, which was a really fun challenge since I’m not very used to writing short fiction. What do you think? Which character’s piece was your favorite, and which do you want to learn more about? Let me know in the comments, and have a very Happy Halloween! 🙂

Character Introduction: Esil

[Image ID: A pencil drawing done on blank paper of a man standing from the waist up, facing right with his head turning to face the audience and look out of the page. He wears a black collared shirt, and belt with a knife in it. His left hand holds a full-face curved black mask with a red line running from the right eye slit to the chin, the other hand rests on the hilt of his knife. He has messy hair that falls around his face to about his chin, and has a threatening smile. End Image ID.]

Age: He forgets. Somewhere in his 30s

Role in the Story: Antagonist and Catalyst, the new Master of the Anarchists

About:

Esil grew up in the insurgent band of Anarchists – a group of violent criminals that follow a cult of old, dead, and forgotten gods and have vowed to take down the Atilan, no matter the cost. When the previous Master is captured and publicly executed by the Atilan, he is responsible for the following counter strike that kills the rest of the high court and dozens of Debilan in the crossfire.

Soon after, he takes on the mantle of his leadership and his team begins doing their best to cause problems for the new queen, Lyss, and the Laine family. Viciously loyal to his friends, vengeance-driven, and a cheerfully destructive force, his actions soon lead to consequences none of them could have imagined.

Author’s note: this post has some minor edits to reflect changes in Lyss’s backstory decided on while revising Storge. This does not significantly affect his character or the overall plot, but I wanted to maintain consistency across my posts.

I’m sure you’ve noticed a change in art style between the previous character portraits I’ve shared and this one. That’s because the others were commissioned for me by my best friend! I plan to commission the artist again to complete portraits for my villains and side characters who we didn’t request the first time, so until I can do that, I’ll be drawing the character portraits as placeholders. There’s one more character post that will summarize several important side characters, and then I’m going to get into some worldbuilding lore!

If you’re new to the site, then more character art can be found on my Gallery page, and the rest of the character portraits and introductions can be found under the Storge page. Since next week is Halloween, I may take off posting for a week to participate in family festivities, but I’d also like to upload a special themed post if possible. Watch my tumblr (@ettawritesandstudies) and my IG (ettagraceauthor) for polls if you want a say! Thanks for reading!

Character Introduction: Lyss Anray

[Image ID: A pencil drawing done on plain paper of a woman, shown as a portrait from the bust up. She has wavy loose hair and shaded skin meant to convey a light brown skin-tone in grayscale. She wears a white dress with a halter top and neckline. Her head is angled down slightly and she looks up at the audience with a scowl. End Image ID.]

Age: 37

Role in the Story: Antagonist and Tyrant, the self-appointed Atilan queen of Maaren.

About:

At the start of the story, Lyss is a well-known Atilan woman who is married to one of the members of the Council. During an anarchist attack in the arena, the council is mostly killed, and in the moment of crisis, she seizes power and becomes the self-appointed queen and sole ruler of Maaren, disregarding the Trials and her council entierly.

She begins to answer the anarchist threat and search for the magical Debilan children who exposed their power trying to save people during the attack. The other Atilan either support, or are unwilling to cross her, and as she becomes more and more bold, it becomes clear the Anarchists aren’t backing down either. Because of her actions, soon the avians and the Laine family are pulled into a conflict they had wished to avoid. She’s a powerful magic user, compelling authority, clever manipulator, and a dead-serious threat to any who would stand in her way.

Author’s note: This bio has been rewritten to reflect changes made to her backstory during my edit of Storge. If you read the previous version, disregard that, because this is the most updated iteration of her character. This does not significantly affect the overall plot of the book, but it does make her story easier to tell and improves the worldbuilding and her intimidation as a villain and I wanted to reflect that here as well.

I’m sure you’ve noticed a change in art style between the previous character portraits I’ve shared and this one. That’s because the others were commissioned for me by my best friend! I plan to commission the artist again to complete portraits for my villains and side characters who we didn’t request the first time, so until I can do that, I’ll be drawing the character portraits as placeholders.

If you’re new to the site, then more character art can be found on my Gallery page, and the rest of the character portraits can be found under the Storge page. Next week, I’ll share Esil’s introduction, then I’ll have some side characters and worldbuilding lore to share with you, so stay tuned for that in the coming weeks. Thank you for reading!

The Liebster Award!

a decorative graphic with the Liebster award logo - a blue ribbon shape with the name surrounding by flowery colorful paisley patterns

Thank you so much to Alina who nominated me for this award!! She’s so sweet and her blog is really great so I highly recommend checking it out! I’m honored that you would consider me for this and I can’t say how grateful I am to have the opportunity to participate in and promote some interaction in the online writing community!

Rules:

  1. Thank the blogger that nominated you
  2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you
  3. Nominate 11 bloggers
  4. Ask your nominees 11 questions
  5. Notify your 11 nominees

Questions/Answers:

When did you start blogging?
I started blogging a little over a year ago on tumblr! I’d just graduated high school and wanted to do something fun and productive with my summer before going to college so I started my writeblr and the rest is history. I started this website/blog this August after finishing the manuscript for Storge! Finally completing that first draft was a massive confidence booster that helped me take a big step into more formally promoting my writing.

What is one extreme sport that you’d like to try?
I’ve swam for years so I’d like to try scuba diving! Does that count as an extreme sport? That and skiing and mountain climbing. I enjoy individual and outdoors sports a lot.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Hopefully I’ll have graduated college with a chemical engineering degree and have a stable first job within a few months! I’m not sure where the career will take me quite yet, but I’m going to be continuing to write and build my author’s platform in the meantime as I get my footing in the real world of being an independent adult.

What’s something new you want to try?
There’s a really cool group of people called the Renegade Bindery that collects resources and tips on how to bind books – specifically fanfiction – at home. I’d love to bind a fic for one of my good friends when I have the time/money for materials/equipment.

What is one fruit/vegetable which you certainly do not like?
I’m not a fan of olives, they’re usually too salty for me to eat without choking down a gallon of water. They’re fine in dishes and on pizza though.

Who’s someone you look up to?
I’m going to answer a few different people for different aspects of this question if that’s ok!
– My go-to answer for this question is usually St. Catherine of Alexandria, my confirmation saint! She has an incredible story which I recommend checking out, and I try to emulate her actions and her Faith in my day to day life. I also really admire da Vinci for how he dedicated himself to studying the world and finding the beauty in science. I often pick up new hobbies in an attempt to learn as much as possible and follow that example of never not learning.
-For writing inspirations, like any self-respecting fantasy author and Catholic nerd, I have a massive respect for J.R.R. Tolkien’s work! I also love Madeline L’Engle’s Time Quintet and Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain!

What sport do you wish you were good at?
Running! I did swim team for years so you’d think I’d have good cardio and endurance but whether it’s track and field or cross country, I’ve never been able to keep up very well whenever I’m on land.

What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
Probably cookies and cream or something chocolate and fudgy unless I’m having fall deserts like pumpkin pie and apple crisp. Then butter pecan and vanilla are best.

Would you rather be the protagonist or the antagonist in your favorite movie/book?
Can I opt to be the sarcastic sidekick instead? I’d be happy being one of the protagonists in The Princess Bride though!

What is one subject that you studied/are studying that you despise?
I hated both the math classes I’ve taken in college (Calc III and Linear Algebra) but I don’t know if that’s an instance of “difficult professor + COVID” or if I just genuinely hated the subject. Currently, I don’t like accounting very much. It’s an important subject and I understand that someone has to do it, but it’s best for someone who’s very linear-thinking and detail oriented and that person is not me.

What is your favorite sauce?
This is such an interesting open ended question! Condiment? I’m not sure…do those count as sauces? Probably ketchup in that case. For pasta, Alfredo is my favorite.

My Nominations!

My Questions:

  1. What’s your favorite part about the writing community?
  2. Do you prefer writing dialogue or description, and why?
  3. Do you have any creative hobbies outside of writing, and how did you get into them?
  4. When was the last time you had a good night’s sleep?
  5. Are you reading/watching/listening to anything right now that you’re excited about?
  6. What’s your favorite YouTube channel?
  7. What writing advice would you give your younger self?
  8. What’s your opinion on color coding?
  9. Is there a specific theme or aesthetic that underlies all your stories?
  10. How many WIPs do you have?
  11. What’s your wildest dream as a creator? (for example, do you want to see fanart of your ocs, have a movie made of your book, etc?)

Thank you again Alina for nominating me! This was a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to meeting more people in the community. I’m always happy to work with other writers, so feel free to reach out if you have any ideas for this blog. Take care, and happy writing! 🙂

Ways to Stay Creative When You Literally Cannot Write

When I started to write this blog post, I searched “time management quotes” into google only to realize I hated pretty much every single one of them. Aside from the annoying misattributions, these sort of motivational platitudes that guidance counselors post on the bulletin board outside their office seem to have one thing in common: that they put fault on the person reading them for not being good enough. They say, “if you just worked a little smarter, or were more self disciplined, or were better at prioritization, you’d be able to achieve your goals.”

I’m not going to get into all the numerous ways this saccharine shallow positivity can quickly turn toxic. Most of us writers are also students, have busy jobs, family obligations, major life changes (and take your pick of crisises, thanks to 2020) that demand absurd amounts of time away from our chosen crafts. A lot of the time, there’s several of these in play at once. Life gets busy. Sometimes, you find yourself in over your head, having done the math, realizing that you barely have time to get a full night’s sleep, much less open a document and even think about putting words down.

The intention of this post isn’t coming from a guilt trip of “I can do all these things and still write, here’s how you can too!”, but rather a shared exhaustion I’ve noticed in the writing communities I frequent. At the end of the day, we might be too tired to write, yes, but that doesn’t mean we still don’t love these stories and want to return to them. I easily get frustrated and sad when I can’t be creative because Real Life gets in the way, and sometimes beat myself up for not being able to do it all. So in light of last week’s post on my September goals, my purpose in writing this post is rather to suggest some very simple coping methods that I use to help keep me in a creative mindset so I don’t go crazy in the interim, and can get back into the flow of writing faster when the time does present itself. They won’t be perfect for everyone, but I hope you’re able to find something useful out of this ramble.

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September Goals Recap

A Little Background:

Hello hello! We’re doing something a little different this week. Normally at the end of each month, I share a recap of my monthly goals list on my studyblr, but since I have this website now, I’d like to start sharing some of my writing goals on here too! In 2018, I started keeping a list of 20-30 items that I wanted/needed to accomplish in the span of the next month. These aren’t obligations like “Do my homework” but rather extra things that help me take tangible steps towards my dreams of “Graduating from College” or “Publishing Storge” and include a variety of goals to try and keep me well rounded and healthy. I always add more than I could reasonably accomplish in the period, so I count the month as a “Win” if I mark off more than half of them. This method was borrowed and adapted from Jenna Moreci’s quarterly writing goals, so I highly recommend checking her out if you want to learn more about the process!

September was a busy month. If you didn’t know, I’m currently a 2nd year chemical engineering student, so I started my fall semester of zoom university. I was also working a summer internship at an international adhesives company, and asked them if they would let me stay on for the school year, since I could do all my homework remotely. They agreed, and I moved to a new division, which included new training, and new projects, so I’ve been working ~18 hours a week there in addition to being a full time student. At this point, you’re probably thinking “Etta! That’s a lot!” and you’d be right! But it didn’t stop me from adding 8 writing goals to my list because I have 0 chill at any time ever, apparently.

So Here’s the Breakdown:

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