Storge Summarized: A Comic Sans PowerPoint

Cover slide: a background that shows a yellow rose on a green bush with comic sans text. The title reads "Storge" a comic sans powerpoint by Etta Grace. surrounding it are the phrases High Fantasy, no romance, magic and religion are related, snarky chapter titles, disability rep, sibling banter literally 24/7, fantasy political drama and themes and symbolism for days.
Slide 2, labeled Worldbuilding. It has two pictures of a city on the banks of a river and one of the petra edifices. It reads "There are two parts of a city state: human and avian. They're called maaren. they trade with each other-that's important later. Kind of in the desert. A river cuts a canyon through the mountains which have anti-gravity magic that lets the stone buildings tower into the sky like a jenga tower. not your typical high fantasy setting.
Slide 3: titled Politics (okok I know this is boring bear with me for two seconds) It is sectioned into 4 parts. 
The Atilan:
Upper class humans
Do magic
Better than You ™
The Debilan:
Everyone else
Generally poor
Can’t do magic, (in strikethrough) not allowed, idk what you’re talking about I’ve never heard of magic in my life
The Anarchists:
They don’t like you
Want to overthrow the government
Extra™
The Avians (not humans):
Want to stay out of drama
Generally pretty chill
Traders and crafts folk
Slide 4: Titled "Magic! How does it work?" 
What most people think – 
There’s a whole bunch of gods and the Atilan can do magic because they’re demigods and the “purest” one gets to be in charge
Debilan are mundane servants of the Atilan and the gods

What Actually Happens – 
Magic is a part of the world’s natural energy and can do all sorts of cool stuff
Anyone can do magic.
The anarchists have their own religion, and then there’s a small monotheistic group that’s in hiding because they don’t! conform! And the Atilan Don’t! Like! That! They both have different ideas about magic too but those aren’t relevant right now

To the right side is a drawing of Luca doing magic with golden lines floating around him with the caption "shameless art promo"
Slide 5: titled "Characters!! The laine kids" There are portraits for all 3 and read:
Luca
16
Lovable idiot
Impulsively heroic
Magic battery
Doing his best
Enne
19
Stressed older sister
Aesthetic queen
Can amplify magic
Btw she’s blind
Grace
12 (Not a baby!)
She is beauty
She is Grace
She will punch you in the face
Can silence magic
Slide 6: Characters (Avian amulearn siblings)
There are two pictures for the two characters. 
Acheran
21
Makes magical stuff
Looks mean, actually a pacifist
Socially awkward eccentric introvert
Kind of a mess (someone help him)
Chara
24
Politician/debater
Miss popular
Does not have the time for this nonsense
Slide 7: last slide for characters these are villains. Again, each has a picture.
Lyss Anray
Atilan queen
Used to getting her way
Stabby
Dramatics
Easily angered with little sense of humor
unfortunately
Esil
Anarchist leader
Stabby
Dramatics
Actually a pretty cool guy once you get pass the trauma and murder
A slide titled "our tangentially related stories stacked in a trench coat masquerading as a plot part 1" It reads as follows: 
The Atilan and the Anarchists hate each other and fight a lot. 
Sometimes the Debilan riot when they get caught in the crossfire.  
It’s a “fun” time. The Laines and Avians are trying to stay out of it. 
Luca and Grace make friends with Acheran when they accidently steal from him. Oops.
The trouble starts when Atilan capture the Anarchist leader and try to publicly execute him. 
The Anarchists object (obviously) and stage a rescue mission 
This goes HORRIBLY WRONG. 
Lots of people die and Luca and Grace throw themselves into it to save people using their magic.
This is bad for may reasons (obviously) 
It metaphorically dumps gasoline onto an already smoldering city
There is a text box with the first line of the story, which reads, "“It was far too lovely a day for a riot, but not even the but not even the cool breeze flapping the fabric of the trader's multicolored tents could prevent Luca from taking advantage of the fact that there was, in fact, a riot.”
The last slide, titled "Four tangentially related stories stacked in a trench coat masquerading as a plot part 2" It reads, "Lyss and Esil take over the Atilan and Anarchists respectively and begin antagonizing each other. It doesn’t take long for the city to slip into almost civil war
The Laine family goes into hiding because now people are searching for the magic Debilan kids and they don’t want any part of this mess
Lyss tries to bully the Avians into getting involved so Chara is thrown into political tensions while Acheran tries to decide what’s right and wrong
The story splits four ways to follow all the different groups and rotates between their points of view as they deal with the ~consequences~
Everything is more complicated than it probably needs to be
Plot! Twists! About! Backstory!
So…. Yeah!"
There is a conspiracy theorist man meme in the bottom right corner with my icon over the face, with the caption "actual footage of me outlining this book."

Hello Hello! If you’re unfamiliar with this format of story summarizing, the Comic Sans PowerPoint is a trend started over on writeblr by user @incadescent-creativity. I thought it would be fun to share an updated version of my original powerpoint here too as a quick intro to the story. If you’re new to my site, welcome! You can check out my Storge page for links to more detailed posts about this story, and feel free to ask me questions if you want to know more. If you’ve been following this site for a while, then welcome to the long awaited TL;DR of the last four months of posts! Let me know in the comments if you found this useful and informative (or at least entertaining lol).

November Goals Recap

Where did this month go?

My sense of time has been really off lately, probably because this month was one of a lot of changes in my routine. I finished my internship about halfway through the month and moved home, where I had exams for a week before going on a week of vacation with my family. (we did outdoors and socially distanced stuff, like swimming at the beach in 40 degree F weather haha). In any case, making goals was a little odd because I had to account for my normal schedule changing so often. I operate religiously on to-do list and calendars, so big shifts or a lack of routine has a tendency to really mess with my head, and I tried to do a combination of hard goals I’d inevitable have to complete, and easier optional things.

For all of that, I’m glad I got this much done! I won the month by four goals, making 17/26 of them! I’ve got a post on my studyblr detailing the rest of them, but I’m going to discuss my writing/creative progress for the month here in some more detail. I completed 5/8 creative goals which makes that a win as well!

Draw 15 things – I did more, but that meets the goal. You can see the story-relevant ones in the ‘my art’ highlight on my IG (@ettagraceauthor)

Do positivity event with Hannah (@hannahs-creations on tumblr)- I finished my part for the event in time, and the main post will be coming soon. I really enjoyed working with her on this, and I’d enjoy doing more collabs in the future both with her and anyone else who might be interested. If you have an idea, feel free to message me about it!

Get Way of Kings in a different format so I can read it  – I was listening to this from the library but becasue it’s such a long book, my hold kept expiring. I caved and got audible to finish it, but now I’ve binged through halfway of Words of Radience now. I love The Stormlight Archive and can’t reccomend it enough! I also did finish Dracula from last month.

Do one log for AI-Lia Antares – This is my epistolatory sci-fi story, and while I really enjoy working on it, I just couldn’t prioritize it with everything else I was working on this month.

Write/publish one chapter of CxC – This is my Newsies fanfiction, another story that I love that unfortunately slipped through the prioritization cracks. It’s currently on a semi-hiatus until I can come up with a backlog over winter break, which starts in a couple of weeks.

Create one thing for Laoche (worldbuilding, chapter outline, or character bio) I did a few things actually! I can’t double count this though. If you want to check out my progess you can find it in these posts on my tumblr:

Edit 10k words of Storge – This story is very complex, and I’ve decided to rework the middle so that instead of following roughly a three act structure with occasional scenes of the villains in the background, I’m going to follow the different characters on a chapter by chapter rotation. This will hopefully mean that the reader won’t lose track of any of any one player at once, and can see how the actions of one influence the others independently. It’ll also keep the narrative pacing consistent, with a nice ebb and flow of tension between scenes so it’s not just exhausting crisis after crisis. The change made to Lyss’s backstory will also help raise the stakes in some key scenes and I’m really happy with how the story is coming together. I think it has a lot of potential and I can’t wait to share it in a more complete form one day. The only downside is that I’ll have to rewrite the middle, and y’all are going to hate me for these cliffhangers.

The 10k words I edited bring me through the first chapter (which might be chopped up because that is a long first chapter. Some of the changes I made include:

  • Scrapping a really awkward and OOC filler conversation between Luca, Chara, Grace, and Acheran when they first meet
  • Adding a new scene introducing the readers to the rest of the Laine family, the kids’ abilities, and the followers of the Artist in a moment of relative peace before the inciting incident throws things on their heads
  • Adding scenery descriptions because I’m starting to learn I have Never Once Described a Thing In My Life.
  • The realization that I’m actually pretty good at descriptions when I bother to do them, but keeping calm scenes moving is a struggle. I’m much better at action/emotion description than just calm slice-of-life which is a problem for my pacing that I’m working on now.
  • Smoothing over general awkardness. Line edits to contend with grammar and delievering snappy sentences will come later but for now it’s slightly less elementary. 

Post 1 thing to website each week – As you may know from my lack of an update, I took a break last week for thanksgiving. I’m currently trying to figure out how I’m going to manage the Christmas/New Years situation in December now, since both holidays fall on a Friday, and scheduling those out in advance.

Now I have a few questions for you! Would you all prefer for me to post on a different day and still make 4 posts for the month or would you prefer a different type of post on those days? What goals have you been working on and what are you proud of doing this month? Is there anything I’ve been working on that you’re curious about? Let me know in the comments, and thank you for reading! 🙂

The Worldbuilding of Maaren pt. 2

Like it says in the title, this is the counterpart to an original post about some of the big groups that affect the plot of Storge. That first post got pretty long last week, so I decided to split it up and post the rest of the lore today! This will elaborate on some of the groups mentioned in part 1, so if you’re confused you can read part 1 here to learn about the background of the world, geography, Atilan, and Debilan groups!

The Avians

Hundreds of years ago, the avians used to be a nomadic group, but the cliffs of Maaren’s canyon provided the perfect place to build more permanent structures for weathering storms and resting en route. At the time, the land was controlled by the Atilan, and though they didn’t posses the technology at the time to retrieve the precious metals and magical elements from the cliffs, they didn’t want to give it up either. For a time it looked like the clash would turn violent, but the humans, knowing they could be devestated by attacks from the sky, and the avians, not wanting to resort to that violence, came to a different agreement.

A battle of wits would be held. If the avians won, they would be allowed to settle there and establish their own government. If the Atilan won, the avians would not only loose the chance to live there, but also the trade ties that provided them with food. Two competitors were chosen – the High Lord at the time, and an intellegent girl who was the scribe to the Avian leader. Their riddles were so evenly matched, the each had the first two correct, but they couldn’t reach an agreement for the the last one on loophole grounds, and they settled for a compromise. The avians could settle and begin building, with a council of their own, but they would need to answer to the Atilan council for any final decisions.

This system still exists in the present-day story of Storge. In the intervening time, the cliff city has become a thriving cultural hub for their people. They survive mainly off of trade, having a tradition of master craftsmen who work with the materials found in the cliffs. Avians cannot perform magic, much like the Debilan aren’t supposed to, but some are incredibly accurate at detecting it, making them invaluable in finding deposits of the materials and making them into charms and devices to be sold to the Atilan. Their society is matriarchial, though while only females may be educated at the prestigious new academy that trains girls in logic, history, law, science, engineering, and the humanities, a sharp wit and cleverness in your work is prized universally. While most follow Daziam, there are many followers of the Artist as well due to its emphasis on creation and beauty, and the smaller religion is not systematically stamped out within their city walls as it is in the human counterpart of Maaren. There are five Magistras on the high council, and they are chosen through a rigorous testing and apprenticeship program. Chara serves as the recently instated Magistra of Trade during the story.

The Anarchists

These are outliers – a very small and very violent group of furious Debilan and disgraced Atilan who hate the high council and have made it their life’s mission to disable the system. They would call themselves revolutionaries, but they operate through intimidation tactics and terror attacks, disregarding anyone who gets hurt in the crossfire in an attempt to get at the Atilan. They use highly illegal and powerful magic for massive amounts of destruction, and worship of pantheon of old gods that came before the Daziam ones – only known about from carvings found in ancient carvings in the tunnels and caverns beneath the cities. They focus on deities with an underworld or “madness” connection – death, drunkenness, and general chaos is seen as the great equalizer; magic is a way for them to tap into that power.

Despite being so violent, those within the group care for each other deeply and think of each other as family and there is order within the camp. They are led by a Master and a few of their close friends who serve as liutenants. Dying for the cause is understood as a likely end, but they are fiercly protective of each other and mourn their dead by celebrating their life and sacrifice with festivities. Over the course of the story, they grow more and more bold with their attacks in an attempt to force the Atilan’s hand, and the city is on the brink of war between the two sects, each trying to wipe out the other. In this conflict, the Debilan and Avians are dragged into the center of something they never started nor want to be inolved in at all.

That covers the 4 main groups of Maaren, their religions, and their magic! I understand it’s a lot, but in telling this story, I wanted to accurately reflect the complexities that exist in our society, to make world seem more realistic. This all plays into the plot in various ways, but is revealed in parts over the course of the story, so there’s no exposition dumps right in the first chapter. Again, this is meant to be more of a reference guide, so that those of you reading this blog before reading the story can know what I’m actually talking about.

I also have one redaction to make from one of my previous character introductions. In the process of editing, I’ve realized that one of the more complicated aspects of the formerly-known-as Lady Elize’s backstory isn’t really necessary to the plot, and by changing it to something simpler, not only can I make the backstory less confusing, but I can also make her more intimidating as a villain. I’ve edited that post to reflect this new change, and put a note at the bottom to explain the change, so if you want to read Lyss’s updated bio, you can find that here.

Thank you for reading! Let me know what you think or feel free to leave questions in the comments! 🙂

The Worldbuilding of Maaren pt. 1

Welcome to the world of Laoche! This is the home of all the stories in the (appropriately named) Laoche Chronicles, including a main trilogy (that has yet to be named) and the prequel, Storge. While all of these stories take place in the same world, Storge focuses on a conflict in one specific reason – a powerful city-state called Maaren. Because this is a socio-political conflict, I mainly focused on worldbuilding the class system, governmnet, and religions of the city, and that’s what I’d like to discuss in more depth today! In the future, I’ll elaborate some more on the lore, magic system, and flora and fauna of the world in the future, but for now this will focus on the main topics that are releveant to the understanding of the story.

All of this would be explained in-story as well as the reader follows along with the main characters going about their lives and navigating the conflict, so this isn’t strictly necessary to know before getting into the story. However, I’ve found that explaining it in an informational way like this helps people understand what on earth I’m talking about online, so I hope this can also be useful as a reference guide of sorts!

The Geography

Image ID: a map of the city I attempted to paint. It’s not very detailed, so I’ll explain below, but wanted to include it as reference. It shows a landmass with the Maariad Sea to the North, and a river emptying into the sea that cuts a canyon through the inland mountains. The city itself is on the coast built up along the river.

Maaren is home to two groups of people – a large human city on the coast that’s built up around the river and sustains itself on farming the banks, and the Avian population that lives in the cliffs. Avians are a race of bird-folk with four wings that live and work in the cliffs of the canyon (including the characters of Acheran and Chara – check out their bios or the fanart page to see what avians look like). They built their city by carving homes out of the rock, and constructing on top of the existing mountians with what they dug out, so that the buildings tower into the sky above the river. The cliffs are full of valuable mineral, gemstone, and precious metal deposits, which are used for creating magical as well as utilitarian things.

The Atilan

The ruling class of Maaren’s human city, consisting of a small number of noble families who have the privilege of using magic. Their position at the top of the social ladder is enforced by the leading religion, Daziam. Followers worship a pantheon of dieties that hold domain over common aspects of daily life, led by Daza, the god of the sun and fire, and his wife Nymbi, goddess of the river and ocean, who created the world and other dieties through their powers. It is belived that the Atilan are the only people who can perform specifically structured magic, becasue they are directly descended from or are otherwise chosen by the gods and using magic is a way of tapping into their power, while the Debilan exist to serve.

The government consists of a council of 5 Atilan, including one High Lord/Lady who is the tiebreaker on decisions and final say-so on important issues. These are chosen whenever the previous ruler dies through a tournament called the Trials. Young ambitious Atilan will compete in several challenges in which they fight, argue, and perform magic to show that they’re the most powerful and most in-tune with the gods, with weaker competitoris being eliminated and sent back home. The person that wins becomes the new ruler, and the four closest runner-ups become their new council. During the Trials, the entire city watches and celebrates and enjoys time off of work.

The Debilan

Almost everyone else in the city! This is a blanket term for any human who is not an Atilan, who cannot do magic, and labors for their living, and can range from street beggars to rich merchants that aren’t a part of the ruling class. They have little say in how the government operates, though they can air their grievances to a system of beurecratic channels created by lower-ranking Atilan that handle the problems and take the biggest issues to the council. Many concern themselves with providing for their families, enjoying the company of friends, and entertaining themselves at any of the plazas that serve as the social centers of the city. They also frequent the arena where the Trials occur, as well as plays, other smaller tournaments, and public punishments. Most Debilan follow Daziam in imitating the example of the Atilan, who’s magic abilities are revered and respected. Though most don’t even try attempting magic themselves, they still leave offerings and pray to their favored patrons in order to ensure blessings and saftey for their homes.

A small number of Debilan who have figured out magic however, have turned away from the Daziam temples to follow a single creator diety known only as the Artist. They worship in back alleys and underground catacombs for fear of being discovered, and actively practice their abilities with the other members. They believe that their magic can be a powerful asset and strong emphasis is put on the idea of creation – mothers are honored for raising and teaching their children, craftspeople decorate their spaces of worship, and they appreciate nature as being another part of the Artist’s creation. They also treat each other as one extended family, greeting and saying goodbye to each other with the phrase “Storge” – a wish for blessings with the connontation of familial love. The Atilan persecute this group as heretics when possible, and this is the faith that the Laine family practices.

This got pretty long when I was first drafting it, so I’ve decided to split it up into two weeks so it’s a little easier to read. Next week, I’ll be discussing more about the Avians and the Anarchists, two other groups that play important roles in the main conflict of the story. Feel free to leave questions in the comments if you’re curious about any of the information here, or let me know what you find most interesting! Thanks for reading!

October Writing Goals Recap

Hello dear reader! If you’ve been around my blog before, you might be familiar with my goal keeping process, so I’m back with another post about this to go over how I did in October! If you’re not familiar with my process, you can read about it here in my September recap, which is the first one I posted on this site. Basically, I write down 20-30 things that need to get done that month, and if I mark off over half of them, that month is a “win”. I’ll only be sharing the reading/writing/creative themed ones here, but if you want to check out the rest of them, you can do so on my studyblr.

September was really hard for me with school kicking into high gear, and I would only burn out worse in October if I didn’t set better goals that could work with my class and work schedule, and I think it pretty much worked! I’m still exhausted and this past week of exams has been really rough (which is to be expected) but I’m proud of how much I did get done, so let’s review, shall we?

  1. Read and review Putrescent Poems by Katie Koontz – I really enjoyed this story and Katie is a good friend of mine and a great writer so I reccomend checking it out! You can read my review here and get the story here.
  2. Make a new writing schedule – I didn’t strictly stick to it, but I started writing for about an hour in the mornings after breakfast and before class started, which is how I was able to mark off the other items on this list!
  3. Make one thing for Laoche – This was originally “outline 1 chapter” but I ended up coming up with a lot of great worldbuilding stuff and last week’s post of drabbles, so I think that counts, since this story is still in the developmental phase.
  4. Draw 15/31 things for Intober – I ended up not following a prompt list, but I did draw 15 things, including the character introductions for Esil and Lyss I posted earlier, and this drawing of Madelyn and Seth I posted on my tumblr
  5. Finish 1 book currently on my reading list – alas, I am renting audiobooks from the online library and they keep timing out on me, so I ended up on a rotation between Pride and Prejudice, Dracula, and Way of Kings, and didn’t finish any of them.
  6. Write 1 log for AI-Lia Antares – It wasn’t a very long one but I did write one. I have a lot of ideas for this story but it takes a lot of time to write it because it’s 75% art project and formatting. If you’re unfamiliar with this story, you can read the WIP Intro Here!
  7. Post 1 thing to my website each week – I did!! Thank you all for reading! I’ve had a great time working on this!
  8. Empy my askbox on tumblr I think I had something like 15 old ones sitting around about, and answering them was a big help in brainstorming for Laoche. I did this over meals or during breaks in studying when I didn’t have enough time to write, but I did have enough time to type up responses on my phone
  9. Write and publish 1 chapter of my fanfic – It only took 2 months for me to finally write finish the half-started chapter so I could mark this off but I did it. We shall see if I can actually continue the story next month.
  10. Edit 1 chapter of Storge – I did like.. the first 3 pages? I’m rewriting the whole thing and this may be the first but I’m sure it will not be the last.

That makes 8/10 creative goals, and 16/22 goals overall which is really good for me, or maybe it’s just because I set easier goals this time. I’m honestly shocked I did that much, though it does explain why I’m tired all the time. I think I’ll be adding “go to bed on time” for next month. If you keep goals too, leave a comment below and tell me some of the accomplishments that you’re proud of this month! Happy writing 🙂

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 growing 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 counterstrike 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, vengence-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 consistancy across my posts.

I’m sure you’ve notcied 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 greyscale. 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. Becasue 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 notcied 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 reccomend 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 confidience 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 recources 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 reccomend 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 pumpking 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 imporant 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 dialouge 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 opinon 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 foward 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 sacchrine 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 interiem, 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.

  1. Consume other media
    Give yourself permission to tackle your “Media To Be Consumed” (MTBC) pile. I say MTBC rather than To Be Read (TBR) because I think all forms of storytelling are important, including books. If you have a longer commute or have the capability to do so while you work, audiobooks, new music, and podcasts are your friend. If you have a little bit of time in the evenings, it’s ok to put on a TV show or movie that you wanted to see. I know I have the tendancy to think “I have free time I should be productive and work on my WIPs” but when you don’t have the energy to create, it’s very important to enjoy resting, and replenishing the inspiration with other stories, which might even kick off some ideas for your own.
  2. Do other creative things
    Writing can take a lot of time to get into the flow of it. When working with something complicated, you might need to reference outlines, reread passages, do research, and it’s often not practical for 10 minute snippets of free time, especially when your brain is fried. For me, doodling is much more low-stakes, and it’s something I can do in stages because I can pick up where I left off, so last year I started learning how to draw. By designing my characters, I was able to engage in the story in a way that wasn’t so demanding. This may not be the same activity for everyone, but if you can find something very simple that works for you, I highly reccomend picking up another relaxing hobby that you can do in the meantime while your writing is on hold. Textile arts, like knitting, embroidery, or making bracelets are also good go-tos, since they’re practical and keep your hands busy.
  3. Count thinking about the story as “writing time”
    Daydreaming can be super useful! Just because you’re not putting words on the page doesn’t mean you’re not making progress either. My best friend reccomended to me taking voice recordings of yourself talking aloud about the story, or dicating snippets. This way you can go back to those thoughts and apply them when you have the time, but until then, they’re stored safely in your phone, and now I use this method regularly. The key here is to not pressure the ideas to come – but when you do find yourself drifting off into fictionaland, sometimes it’s worth noting.
  4. Set your standards SUPER low
    My personal standard is “If I did anything creative today for more than 5 minutes, that counts as a win.” What it was, the quality produced, and the time spent as long as it was longer than 5 minutes, don’t matter, just so long as I do something. The goal here isn’t even to make incrimental progress, but rather to keep your brain in a creative headspace so that when you can go back to writing, there isn’t such a long readjustment period as you try to get back into a point where you know how to approach your story.
  5. Yes, I’m a hypocrite, but you need to REST
    It’s hard to slow down when it feels like you’re constantly falling behind, and I say this as a reminder to myself as much as I say it for you reading this. When your brain is fried, all your work suffers and the time it takes to do simple tasks stretches out and puts you farther into the hole, which means you push yourself to work harder, and this is a viscious cycle I’ve found myself in all too many times. Do as I say and not as I do.

So, what’s the conclusion here? Obviously, self care is incredibly important and also equally hard to remember to do on your own sometimes, so if you’re reading this, I have a challenge for you: Drink some water, send a message to a friend to remind them to do the same, and reblog one post of original content from a writer/artist you like. The biggest thing that’s kept me going when life gets insane is the incredible community I’ve found, so take a moment to support yours! I wish you all the best of luck in getting through whatever difficult season you’re going through, and my inbox is always open if you want to chat. Happy writing!