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!

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 reccomend 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 remotly. 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:

  • Outline 1 chapter of Laoche – I’ll share a re-formatted version of my outlining process post on this blog at some point but this is an exhaustive and very thorough process and so it takes a long time for me to outline my stories, especially as something as exciting as the first chapter to kick of the trilogy so I’m glad I was able to do this!
  • Post character bios to IG alongside my website – I have an author’s Instragram! It’s @ettagraceauthor and you can go follow that for some progress pics and other updates!
  • Outline 3 logs of AI-Lia Antares – I ran out of time to do this unfortunetly, but I’ve got sheets full of notes so I have material to work with for whenever I do have the chance to sit down and do some fun formatting! If you’re unfamiliar with this story, you can read the WIP Intro Here!
  • Make 1 character bio for Laoche – I mostly outlined Madelyn! I’ve still got to flesh out some worldbuilding aspects but the bulk of the outline is done so this gets to be checked
  • Schedule character intro posts for the main 5 characters – You can find the links to all of them on the Storge WIP page of this blog!
  • Publish my Newsies fanfic, Lost and Found (Again) once a week – I think I published one chapter this whole month, ouch. I miss this story and I’m looking foward to going back to it, but unfortunetly, fanfic falls a little lower on my priority list so I didn’t have the time to work on it this month
  • Edit 1 chapter of Storge – I’m honestly kind of bitter I didn’t do this. I’m really excited to share this story with all of you but I can’t do that until it’s edited, and unfortunetly that’s a process that takes a lot more time/energy than organizing pre-existing notes – energy I don’t often have at 1am once I’ve finished my schoolwork. Mabye next month. :/
  • Do one collaborative event – Hey, if you want to hear more about my outlining process and how it’s affected my writing over the years, you can read This Interview with I did with Max Gray! And if you want to learn about developing an author’s platfrom, you can read the interview Max did with me, right here on this blog!

In addition to these goals, I had another 18 personal/professional/life themed goals, and overall I accomplished 16/26 which made the month a win by 3 poitns! Looking back I’m honestly surprised I got as much as I did accomplished with all the other demands on my time, though I probably should have taken more time to rest and sleep because I’m also exhausted. For October I’m planning to include more self-care goals, for sure. Next week’s post is going to talk about burnout and creativity when life gets crazy – a topic that I deeply care about, and while I’m clearly not an expert at keeping a balanced schedule, I hope I’ll have a few interesting insights that you may find useful. 🙂

QOTD: Do you set goals? If so, how do you structure them, and how have you found they help you? What’s something exciting you’ve done this month?

Until next time, Happy Writing!

Character Introduction: Magistra Chara Amulearn

[Image ID: A digitally drawn portrait of an Avian from the neck up. She has a human-like face, dark skin with cool undertones and flecked with orange light, and “hair” of feathers covering his head. She looks at the viewer with a neuteral expression. Her plumage is various shades of blue, white, and black. Though not shown in the drawing, Avians have four wings and she wears a loose fitting wrap-style dress and bangles. This portrait was done by @_.par0xysm._ on Instagram! End Image ID.]

Age: 24

Role in the Story: Leader, responsible for the trade of her city and the well being of her people.

About:

Chara is an extremely driven and determined Avian who will work herself until exhaustion to achieve her goals. She’s a public servant, first and foremost, and her focus is entirely dedicated to helping her city and friends however she can use her power and position to do so. She’s idealistic and prizes fairness and justice in her work, and doesn’t approve of people seeing her shaken. Chara keeps meticulous organization and appearance in order to uphold the facade, even if she’s stressing over her responsibilty to keep her people well-supplied and well-fed.

Despite her ambition and devotion to her work, her heart is ultimately with her loved ones, and she prizes the work of her brother, Acheran, and the company of her friends in the Laine family.

This is the last of the character introductions for the main characters in my current WIP, Storge, which is in its editing phase! Next up are introductions for my two villains, as well as a list of several important side characters. In the meantime, you can find the other character introductions linked to the Storge page of this blog, and more art on the Gallery page. Thanks for reading! 

Character Introduction: Acheran Amulearn

[Image ID: A digitally drawn portrait of an Avian from the neck up. He has a human-like face, dark skin with orange-red undertones and blue highlights, and “hair” of feathers covering his head. He has an angular face, and looks at the viewer with a neuteral expression. His plumage is organe red, and his feathers are fluffy and disheveled. Though not shown in the drawing, Avians have four wings, he wears loose fitting work clothing and carries belts and straps full of carving tools. This portrait was done by @_.par0xysm._ on Instagram! End Image ID.]

Age: 21

Role in the Story: Observer, a scientest studying magic though his art of charm making.

About:

Acheran is one of the pacafist Avians living in the cliff-city near Maaren. He is a charm maker – though he can’t perform spells, he’s excellent at sensing magic in his surroundings and channeling it into the materials he works with in order to create his art that functions as batteries for the Atilan to use in their work. He’s extremely curious about the natural world and practical applications of the magic he works with and loves solving problems. When he gets going on a project, he won’t rest until he’s figured it out or someone forcibly stops him and often forgets to eat and sleep as a result of this. Likewise, if something bores him, he’ll avoid it at all costs.

Upon a first meeting, Acheran may seem quiet, clumsy, and disorganized, prefering to avoid conflict and content to sit back and merely observe the world. But Acherans connection to his city runs deep through his sister Chara, and his friends in the Laine family, and he must do his best to navigate an increasingly volatile situation, wondering what’s the right thing to do, and if he has the will to commmit to it.

This is the one of several character introductions for my current WIP, Storge, which is in its editing phase! If you want to see Acheran’s sister, Chara, make sure you check back next Friday! In the meantime, you can find the other character introductions linked to the Storge page of this blog, and more art on the Gallery page. Thanks for reading! 🙂

Starting an Author’s Platform: An Interview with Max Gray

Welcome to my first interview post! *celebration trumpet sounds*

I had the honor of working with Max Gray to talk about how he got started with his author’s platform and how he approaches engagment in the community. Max is a trans writer (using he/him pronouns) who writes contemporary works, almost always with some kind of queer romance involved. He is currently planning a surrealism novel called Plant Life, and is drafting a fanfiction called Superkids.

You can find him on his Website, Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram @maxgraybooks, and on his Youtube channel!

Question 1: Why did you first start posting your writing online – not just for your current WIP but where did you get your start? The first step is a big one, so I want to hear about how you came to take it.

Max: Well, I actually started out on Wattpad with my girlfriend at the time. I’ve been writing since I was in first grade, but it was always off and on, until my girlfriend at the time and I started writing together, and we posted all of our books on Wattpad. I think the main reason was probably just because we had fun with them, and wanted to talk to other people about the stories and characters. For both Plant Life and Superkids, I started posting about them pretty much as soon as I got the idea. If I didn’t have people actively waiting to read Superkids, and excited for it, I probably would have given up on the story a while ago.

Etta: It’s really cool that you were able to find your community so quickly, and that they’ve been so encouraging to your writing process!

Question 2: How long have you been writing? How long have you been posting about your writing?

Max: Well, I wouldn’t say that I didn’t have my struggles every now and then, but I’m pretty persistent about keeping other writers in my company lol.

I started writing seriously when I was 13 (so about 6 years now), and have been posting about it for the same amount of time (which is really weird to think about lol). I was watching Jenna Moreci’s channel for writing advice, and she said that if you wanted your book to be a success, you should be marketing yourself as a writer long before the release. I believe she suggested Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube, and Tumblr was just the one that resonated with me the most, so that’s the one I’ve been posting consistently on the last 6 years.

Etta: I started by watching Jenna Moreci’s channel too! She’s fantastic, and it’s been interesting to see how many people I know through writeblr also watch her videos. I really admire that you jumped straight into posting as soon as you began writing seriously because I know for me that was a much longer process, and six years of experience already is fantastic.

Max: Thank you! Yeah, I was one of the dumbasses who thought I’d publish a book before graduating high school lol. But I loved the community, so no harm done there.

Me: That’s an ambitious goal but I completely understand that impatience to be able to Officially share your stories with others because I was the same way – like trying to plan out how fast I can write and go through publishing and vastly underestimating my ability lol

Question 3: What platforms are you currently active on, and why did you choose them? What sort of content do you normally post?

Max: I’m currently on Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Mostly Tumblr, because it’s just the one I enjoy the most. Twitter and Instagram simply because they’re popular with my target audience, but I’m still a little awkward and don’t post as much as I should because I honestly just never know what to post lol. And YouTube, extremely casually. I just recently posted the first video in two years, where I just ramble about a Minecraft book I really liked lol. Oh, I also have my blog on WordPress.

On Tumblr, I pretty much just yell about how much I love my WIPs, and occasionally, when I remember, I do writer tags. Twitter is honestly mostly retweets, but when I’m doing sprints I’ll usually live tweet, and sometimes I’ll update my progress there. On Instagram, it’s usually pictures of my word count, my workspace, myself, or just something I thought was pretty. On YouTube, I’m planning on doing some writing vlogs on top of the book ramblings! I’m really excited for those, I absolutely love ShaelinWrites’.

And for WordPress, every other week I do an intensive post, sometimes breaking down a specific story to get the best advice for a topic (Learning How To Write Redemption Arcs from Avatar: The Last Airbender), and some other writing related topics (also some zombie related topics). I also have a series where I go over a specific story and how well they did their queer representation (The Walking Dead and Queer Representation). In the days between, I do a progress update on my goals and productivity.

Etta: That’s all really interesting! I’m looking forward to seeing the writing vlogs, those sound really fun! I’ve taken a look around your blog and the articles are all really informational and well done! (in case you missed it, links to all of the above are at the top of this post)

Max: Awww, thank you so much!! I work really hard on them lol.

Question 4: For the more themed content, like on your wordpress blog and youtube channel, how did you decide on what to focus on when there’s so many writing topics to cover?

Max: Honestly? Based on what I enjoy, and what I’d be good at. I can’t give just straight up writing advice like Jenna does, because I’m still a baby and still too into the learning process to be a teacher. That’s why I break down other people’s stories, who do know what they’re doing, so we can all learn together. It also gives me an excuse to binge things like Avatar and call it research.

Me: That is an extremely valid answer, and I’ve also found that if the writer/blogger enjoys what they’re covering, it makes reading the article a lot more enjoyable, and I can tell you’ve put a lot of care into your work. It’s really cool to know that you’re pursuing what you enjoy more than what you think might be popular

Max: Thanks 🙂 That’s really nice to hear, actually.

Question 5: What’s your honest opinion on online writing communities? What’s your favorite part of being in online writing communities? You least favorite part?

Max: I think they’re extremely important and I don’t know how writers survived without a surplus of them before the internet lol. My favourite part is definitely the convenience of it, and that there’s endless people to meet, so even if it takes some work, you will find the people and projects you vibe with.

My least favorite part is a bit of a personal problem, but it frustrates me more than it should that it’s so hard to gain traction. In my six years being on writeblr, I would think I’d have some active followers, but most of my followers are inactive and most people don’t see my posts. The close friends I made when I was thirteen aren’t on Tumblr anymore, and connecting with people is difficult. So I guess in an ironic way, the communication is both my favourite and least favourite part lmao. It’s both super accessible, and so goddamn tiring.

Me: That’s a really relatable way of summarizing the problem of navigating the internet as a creator, but the community is wonderful when you can find a few good people who will be vocal! I know for me at least, it’s easy to fall into a hypocritical trap of “I want more people to see my things” but then when life gets in the way I won’t respond to anyone else’s things, so I’ve been really working on staying more active because contributing to the community is just as important as getting support from it.

Max: Yes!! I totally agree. It gets to be a tricky balance, what with spoons and what not, but the effort is important.

Question 6: Where do you want to take your platform from here? Do you keep writing or platforming goals, and if so, what are they?

Max: I currently don’t keep concrete goals (except to post once a week on my WordPress blog), but I’m hoping to use it as a way to promote myself as a writer and engage in the community. That’s what I want the most, honestly, people to talk to and a community to engage in.

Me: Posting once a week is a good goal and a great way to engage with the community! Because that involves researching/writing/editing an article and that’s a lot of time, I think that’s a perfectly reasonable goal.

Question 7: Do you have any advice for writers who are thinking about starting their author’s platform?

Max: I would say just getting started, especially as a young/new creator, to not take yourself too seriously. Give yourself time to explore and find out what you like to do, what you’re good at doing, experiment. Maybe this is an unpopular opinion, but I wouldn’t suggest having a schedule when you first start out.

Etta: That’s an interesting opinion! This is an unofficial question, but how did schedules work for you when you first started and how did you come to that conclusion?

Max: They didn’t work out for me. Lol, they just stressed me out and made whatever I did post, very bad. To be fair, I was like, 15, but still. Schedules are for people who have their footing.

Etta: aahh that makes a lot of sense. Thank you for answering!

I had a lot of fun working with Max and I hope you found this as interesting and informational as I did! I also did an interview over on his blog about outlining a story, which you can find here, so be sure to go check that out as well! If you have a topic you want to talk about, feel free to reach out and I’d be happy to host you as well! As Max said, engagement is the most important part of maintaining a writing community, so feel free to comment and tell me what else you want to see on this blog. 🙂

Happy writing!