Chatting · Misc. Creative Projects

The Making of a Mistcloak, part 2: Creating and Community

There comes a time in the life of any maker that one has more good encouragement than good sense. These moments, when enthusiastic friends push you to do the wild, half-planned idea, far outside of your comfort zone – these are the projects that one remembers most fondly. If you’ve noticed me taking a bit of a detour from my usual writing fare, I hope these tangents don’t deter you from coming with me on this creative journey. Seldom does fiction occur in a vacuum, unaffected by the author’s other interests, and seldom does Making Stuff occur in a vacuum, devoid of influence from other creative friends. Your life becomes more interesting as you become more well-rounded, and I’m a firm believer that the same goes for your fictional worlds.

Is this a lengthy excuse for inflicting you with my latest fan project? Yes. Yes, it is. But this is my slice of the internet and I’ve spent altogether too much time and money on this project not to show it off literally everywhere. There’s a moral in here somewhere, I swear, but in an age of ~Careful Branding~ and ~Targeted Marketing~ I hope it’s more fun to read this blog when it’s just me. Some nerd. Enthusiastically and unashamedly rambling about my self-indulgent hobbies for whoever cares enough to listen. Somehow, doing just that helped me to find all the lovely people who worked on this project with me ❤

Continue reading “The Making of a Mistcloak, part 2: Creating and Community”
Chatting · Reading Recs

Making of a Mistcloak, part 1: Why Vin?

I owe a lot to Brandon Sanderson. In the summer of 2020, I was three years deep into the worst reading-slump of my life, struggling with anxiety and depression thanks to a combination of university stress, the pandemic, a full-time laboratory job, and living away from home in a strange dead city. My writing was struggling due to lack of time and input to fill up my creative well. I don’t remember a lot of that spring, except that it felt like my head was constantly full of mist.

I had no idea how much my life would change when I picked up an audiobook of The Way of Kings to help pass the hours doing tedious sample prep. The story of my writing community starts here, two years ago, since it was the same summer I started this website. I owe my eternal thanks to Quinn Siarven for both the excellent book recommendation and moral support for the past several years ❤ Kaladin’s ideals got me through that year, and the next, and the next, as I fell deeper into the Cosmere:

I picked up the audiobook of The Final Empire this past summer, at another lab job, doing boring sample prep again, and immediately grew attached to Vin’s character. I wish I had picked up this book in high school, because I relate to this awkward, intense teen altogether too much. Reading about her struggles was like reading about my slightly younger self, and I want to scoop her up in a hug. It also shocked me just how many of my OCs are incredibly similar to Vin, carrying paranoia, too much trauma, great skill, and grander callings on their young shoulders.

Beyond that, The Final Empire is also just so much fun?? As much as post-apocalyptic hell-scapes can be fun, that is. Kelsier brings such an entertaining energy to the page, and his beacon of hope resonated with those deeper themes that have always been the source of my love for these series. The “learning to fly” scenes are always my favorite, since I’ve been a little kid I’ve always dreamed of taking off into the wild blue yonder and leaving my problems behind, and there’s no small part of wish fulfillment in this costume bringing me a little closer to launching myself into the sky. The dynamics with the rest of the crew are so wholesome, and Sazed was my favorite by far.

You can’t talk about a Sanderson book without touching on the magic systems and worldbuilding. The planet of Scadriel works on three sets of rules: Allomancy, Feurochemy, and Hemalurgy, all of which play crucial roles in the plot and weave together with the characters to tie them into a prophecy much bigger than themselves. It’s an intricately crafted world full of history as multifaceted as our own world. I loved how many religions are described, because that’s a part of worldbuilding that I often see glossed over, but personally find very interesting, and the discussions of faith and hope are intrinsically woven into the character’s arcs in a way that feels fundamentally natural to how we as humans constantly wonder about why we’re here.

“The right belief is like a good cloak, I think. If it fits you well, it keeps you warm and safe. The wrong fit however, can suffocate.”

“But you can’t kill me, Lord Tyrant. I represent that one thing you’ve never been able to kill, no matter how hard you try. I am hope.”

“Our belief is often strongest when it should be weakest. That is the nature of hope.”

It goes without saying that I wholeheartedly recommend these books, and I was thrilled to take on a cosplay for Vin. In the future, I’d love to cover other characters from Sanderson’s worlds – perhaps Veil or Vivenna will be up on the list! What’s your favorite Cosmere book? As much as I love the Mistborn trilogy, I have a soft spot for Words of Radiance and how the relationships between Kaladin, the Kholinars, and Shallan all grow and evolve. Maybe I’ll actually get caught up on Sanderson’s books by the time Stormlight 5 comes out, and I’m looking forward to the secret novels next year!

Next week I’ll be sharing the full process of creating the cloak and how the community I’ve found at school helped me finish such a large project, so check back for that! As always, I am open to suggestion if you have a topic you’d like to see covered! If you feel so generously inclined, you can support my writing (and other creative endeavors) by leaving me a tip on my Kofi or donating using the secure box below. Until next time, thanks for reading and happy writing!

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Storge · The Laoche Chronicles

Construction and Camaraderie

This is a 4101 word long excerpt from Storge Draft 2.5, in chapter 9. At this point in the story, Luca has earned a job with Acheran, displayed his magic in the arena, and practiced controlling his magic after his family goes into hiding in the Avian city. Meanwhile, Lyss, queen of the Atilan, has imposed city-wide curfews, manipulated the Avians into joining her side, and placed a ransom for Luca, while the Anarchists plot their next move. All the links go to those excerpts I’ve previously shared, if you want to catch up, but hopefully that summary should give you enough context for this snippet! If you aren’t familiar with the story, you should first check out the WIP page. I hope you enjoy reading!


Acheran solved his puzzle for the seventh time as the moon slid past the rings to mark the second half of the night. Only a lunatic should know how to tell the time by the slant of the beams through the ceiling door, but Acheran was all too familiar with this hour. He laid on his stomach so his wings formed a shadowy tent over him. Nimble fingers assembled the ball out of carved stone pieces and dropped it to the cushions in exasperation. In any other circumstance, the night would be a relief, a time when the world was quiet, and he had time to think and create in peace, briefly unrestrained from the demands of the day. He treasured the opportunity to fly in wide circles over the city and wander through the clouds as moonlight sliced through the moisture.

Stupid Atilan curfew.

Continue reading “Construction and Camaraderie”
Storge

After the Arena

This scene comes from Chapter 4 and shows the fallout from the attacks in chapter 2 from the villain’s subplots. Keenan is a unique side character who bridges the gap between the Atilan court and the ordinary Debilan that make up most of the city and poses a foil to Luca when they meet later in the book. This scene is his introduction! If you aren’t familiar with the story, you should first check out the WIP page. I hope you enjoy reading!


The guards stumbled on the battlefield as their targets vanished from behind their spears and attackers disappeared mid-blow. Keenan tripped over another guard and hit the ground with a grunt. On instinct, he pulled his shield over his head, but when no attack came, he cautiously lowered it again. The fallen soldier beside him groaned and pulled himself to his feet before extending an arm to his squad leader.

“Where’d they go?”

Keenan searched the area. The anarchists left glassy patches on the sandy floor of the arena where they stood. Scorch marks from their spells. What magic let them vanish without burning alive? No matter. They left. The fight ended. Now he had bigger problems to face. Spectators trampled each other to escape and piled against the locked gates. Dead bodies littered the two sections where the Atilan sat.

“It doesn’t matter! Get those doors open!”

The soldier armoed and ran. How many soldiers did he have left? Two unlocked the gates. The others recovered from the shock and made their way to him. At first glance, four fallen. Among the carnage stood Atala Lyss—one of the council and the highest-ranking lady among the Atilan and the city. Blood splashed her white dress, but whether it was hers or someone else’s, Keenan couldn’t tell.

“Captain!”

He spun to face her and made an armoe. “Are you injured?!”

“The others are. Remove the council to the palace infirmary. Where are the anarchists?”

“They’re not in the arena anymore. We don’t know how they escaped. A flash of magic and then-“

“Send someone for the investages so they can figure out what this means. What about the rogue fighter?”

“The one with wild magic? A Debilan boy, I think.”

“Where did he go?”

“I didn’t see. I was across the arena in spear formation with my squad. He probably escaped with the crowd after the anarchists disappeared and we opened the gates. I apologize, I thought it was for the best if- “

“No matter, you chose right. We will find him. Bring the injured Atilan to the temple for healing. They will receive treatment after the council. Later, we will send officials to identify the murdered Debilan.”

“Velis.” Keenan made his acknowledgment of her requests with another armoe and hurried to direct his squad.

Medics came with stretchers soon after, and he moved with them into the temple, where enormous statues of Daza and Nymbi glared down upon their worshipers.

What is this? Their eyes asked. A new sacrifice? We want more.

Continue reading “After the Arena”
Chatting · Interviews

Torn Universe: An Interview with Faye Fite

Today I’m pleased to introduce you to Faye Fite, one of my longtime writing inspirations, and the author of The Terebinth Tree Chronicles, which I reviewed last week! I am thrilled to have her on my blog today to talk about developing characters, specifically fighters. This was such a fun interview, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed conducting it!


Welcome! First, for a general introduction, can you tell me about yourself, how long you’ve been writing, and what you write?

Faye: Absolutely! My name is Faye Fite. I’m a disabled author of Christian speculative fiction and author of the Torn Universe, an expanded universe of science-fiction and fantasy short stories containing such things as desert elves, Aztec-inspired vampires, and sci-fi mermaids. I primarily write YA fantasy with tough, raw characters, vibrant cultures, and themes of strength, courage, and brokenness. I have been writing long before I knew how to spell properly. In my spare time, I am a college student studying nutrient metabolism and research assistant studying nutritional metabolomics.

Etta: Ah, that’s such a good pitch! It absolutely fits what I’ve seen of your work so far, and I love you say you do college “in your free time” haha. Big mood there. I’ve most recently read your Terebinth Tree Chronicles, so I’m most familiar with those characters, but if you think another character fits better for the questions, feel free to tell us about them too!

Continue reading “Torn Universe: An Interview with Faye Fite”
Chatting · Reading Recs

Reading Rec: Terebinth Tree Chronicles

Hello everyone and welcome back to another reading rec! This month I want to talk about an author that I’ve enjoyed for quite a while now: Faye Fite. I found her blog back in high school when she still wrote under her other name, and the perspective she shared in her writing advice inspired me to get serious about my writing. Her books introduced me to the indie publishing space and the worlds of possibilities that open when you can control the content of your stories. Faye writes Christian speculative fiction that isn’t preachy and features badass disabled characters.

The Terebinth Tree Chronicles is a series of high fantasy short stories that share the backstories of Wanderer, Jayel, and Ailith – the future protagonists of an epic who are on a mission to assassinate the dark lord that’s plagued their world and ruined their families. Currently, three books have been released in this series: Colors of Fear, Flames of Courage, and Sounds of Deceit, but there are more on the way! Faye also has a few standalone books, including Skies of Dripping Gold, and So I Accidentally Killed the Chosen One, which are both part of the same expanded story-world as the Terebinth Tree Chronicles, called the “Torn Universe.” I’m not sure how they all connect yet, but it’s a really cool concept! Faye is also a member of the Phoenix Fiction Writers, and has published three short stories in their anthologies.

I can wholeheartedly recommend all of her writing, but today I especially want to focus on the characters in the Chronicles and how their arcs are set up to have satisfying conclusions within each backstory book, but leave enough open-ended questions for the rest of the series to continue building.

Continue reading “Reading Rec: Terebinth Tree Chronicles”
Storge · The Laoche Chronicles

The Arena Attack

This month brings you a scene from the second draft of Storge, specifically the inciting incident in chapter 2. It is a fight scene, so content warnings for blood and two “on screen” minor character deaths. It’s 1470 words, so nothing tooo long. I’m super excited to share this with you since it’s one of my favorites and I’ve only ever shared isolated lines before, so please let me know what you think!


Every butcher, baker, farmer, tailor, merchant, laborer and beggar packed themselves into the cramped arena stands to experience the spectacle. Seldom did they see bloodshed beside their own, and they would not waste the opportunity for entertainment. Stuck as they were, Grace strained to see over the crowd. They held their breath against the stench of body odor and fish that baked into the air under the hot evening sun. Luca fought the urge to take off his long-sleeved shirt to cool off, but the sight of the Atilan viewing boxes made him think twice. He tugged the edges down over his wrists instead.

Venders hawked their wares to the crowd, hoping to make some extra money off the event by selling the oily, salty snacks of dried meat. The advertising cries drowned when the crowd rose in a sea of shouting as guards dragged the rebel Master onto the sand. He didn’t take arrest easily. Blood and sweat shone on his bald head and dripped down his bare, lash-scarred back. They chained his hands behind his back, but it didn’t stop him from straining against his bonds. It took three soldiers to force him to move. Jeers sounded as the people of the city unleashed their pent-up frustrations and anger.

The High Atil strode onto the raised dais that stood in the exact center of the arena and raised his hands for silence. Gradually, the crowd hushed and anticipation replaced the fervor. He sneered at the rebel leader and slowly stretched out his arm, pointing his index finger towards the ground.

Kneel.

Continue reading “The Arena Attack”
The Laoche Chronicles

Worldbuilding The Laoche Chronicles

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. I first came up with the story in middle school, and as I learned more about the writing process, realized that I would need to write the prequel first to set everything up for the series. Now, I’m returning to my original concept, and revising it, which includes some updated worldbuilding and a new approach to my process.

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 wanted to share. I also hope that a case-study like this will help be an example of what works (and what doesn’t) when you’re making a high/epic fantasy. 🙂

To start I’m going to share a map, so that all of these locations actually make sense.

When I first revisited this story, I realized that A) I’d lost most of my notes when that thumb-drive got stolen in 10th grade, and B) Most of it was pretty cliche, since I was 14 when I came up with it. So I pitched everything but the premise and my three favorite characters to start over from scratch:

The Premise: Madelyn (a mage with malfunctioning magic) and Seth (ex-prince of Arga) discover a magical artifact that changes how they view magic, and shifts the balance of power in the world, then have to deal with the ensuing fallout.

Continue reading “Worldbuilding The Laoche Chronicles”
Storge · The Laoche Chronicles

Storge’s First Scene

It was far too lovely a day for a riot, but not even the cool breeze flapping the fabric of the trader’s multicolored tents could prevent Luca from taking advantage the fact that there was, in fact, a riot. No one was quite sure who noticed the Atilan erasing and inscribing the new tax decree onto the massive slab of sandstone that served as the city’s news board. No one was really sure who started shouting obscenities first. No one was entirely sure when the Atilan threw magic into the gathering crowd. No one was completely sure how many Debilan they had injured. 

It mattered little now. The body of the Atilan messenger lay motionless in the street.

Luca ducked and dodged through the throng. Red-faced shop keeps chanted curses against their rulers for this new grievance. He fixed his eyes on the ground, searching for valuables dropped in the scuffle. A dull gleam of polished stone caught his eye. He snatched the prize and stuffed it into his satchel without stopping to check what he had found. 

As the Atilan guards flocked to the scene, Luca glanced up at the brief distraction, and so did the wealthy-looking merchant standing to his side. The shouts rose to a roar as workers charged onto the platform. The smells of blood, sweat, and anger hung in the air as the bodies pressed together. Someone stumbled into the merchant. Coins tumbled from the purse that sat in his open hand. Luca stooped to pick them up before the man could stop him and mumbled an apology. Shoving the newfound loot into his knapsack, he flipped the cover shut, escaped the crowd, and hurried along a twisting side road. Luca ducked under the outside staircase of an old tenement building, searching for any onlookers. Satisfied that everyone else was off protesting, he sprinted up the stairs and onto the flat roof.

A girl waited for him in the shade of a makeshift canopy, focused on the brouhaha below them. She was young, with ruddy brown and freckled skin and curly dark brown hair in a braid that reached her waist. Her simple dress had long lost its creamy white color, and it was torn from an old fight. When she heard Luca mount the stairs, she tore her attention from the seething crowd to look up at her brother.

“They attacked the Atilan!” she hissed. “Did you see that!?”

“Kills the mood, huh?” Luca beckoned his sister towards him, away from the edge of the roof. “I thought I told you to stay out of sight.”

“If riots are distracting enough that you’re safe to go stealing, then I’m sure I’m safe aaalllll the way up here, watching your back.” She glanced down at the street before moving closer to him. “Find anything good?”

Luca nodded and flopped down next to her as he dumped out the bag, pushing back his hair as it fell into his face. They pocketed the coins first, before sorting through the rest of the oddities. Grace occasionally looked to the street. With mages conjuring a wall of magic, the guards pushed the rioters out of the plaza. A couple lingered to watch them collect the messenger who stumbled to his feet, disoriented but not wounded. The watchers scattered when the largest of the three guards pulled his seax knife from its sheath. 

Grace frowned and turned her attention back to their work. “Most of this stuff is junk. Enne would probably like this button. Pretty pattern, and you can feel the texture. Does it match the ones on the frock she’s making?” She held the button up to the early morning light, and the shiny metal glinted in the sun. 

Luca shrugged in reply before handing her the stone he had picked up, eyes gleaming with hope. “What about this?”

As Grace took the pebble, her eyes widened in surprise. Her fingers shocked with magic, and she dropped the thing back into Luca’s hands like a hot coal. “A charm! Not a powerful one, so don’t let me have it. Where did you find that?!”

“A few paces from the shops. My guess is that one of the Atilan dropped it in the scuffle.”

“Do you think they’ll come looking for it? If we’re caught-“

“No. Look, it’s so small. They won’t miss it.”

Grace nodded in agreement, when a sudden loud voice interrupted from behind them. “I don’t suppose you were planning to return that?”

The two kids jumped, spinning around to face the newcomer. Perched on the edge of the roof was an Avian. They were bird-like people who lived in the canyon cliffs along the river, and this one was taller than most, standing at seven feet tall. Four huge wings folded behind his torso – two at the shoulders and two at the waist. The reddish-brown plumage that covered nearly his entire body, save the palms of his hands and face, mirrored the color of the clay dirt of the desert. He wore a vest and loose breeches with several pockets that seemed stuffed with all sorts of strange things. Belted around his waist hung a stained artisan’s frock. Another harness strung over his shoulder, between his wings, and around his hip so that it could hold a large assortment of chisels, hammers, and knives. He wore no shoes; his taloned feet curled over the ledge of the roof to keep him balanced as he hunched over the two kids with his hand extended for the charm. Solid bronze eyes with sharp black pupils set deep in a human-like face, squinted in anger. The feather tufts at his ears pressed back against his head.

Luca clasped the charm to his chest as dread and panic mounted. He shifted his weight onto his feet and braced himself against the stairs, ready to run. He pulled Grace to his side, not for her own protection, but for restraint. She snapped into a fighting stance, and had her hands balled into fists, though they stayed by her sides. Neither answered the question.

The avian seemed to notice their discomfort. He forced a smile and lowered his wings, as if trying to appear nonthreatening. Luca, still threatened, forced himself to smile back. The avian repeated his question. “Are you going to return that?”

If you feel so generously inclined, you can support my writing by leaving me a tip on my Kofi or donating using the secure box below. Until next time, thanks for reading and happy writing!

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Chatting · Reading Recs

Reading Recommendation: Character Voice in the Chronicles of Prydain

Welcome to the first of this blog’s reading recommendations! In keeping with the theme of the month, each 3rd Friday, I’ll bring you a book that really shows off a certain aspect of storytelling that writers can learn from. Is this just a thinly veiled excuse for me to ramble about my favorite books? Absolutely. But there is something to be said for learning from other authors, so today, I’ll be sharing experts from The Chronicles of Prydain to show how Lloyd Alexander uses voice to introduce his colorful cast of characters. If you’re unfamiliar with the series, it’s a pentology of children’s high fantasy books that follow the life of a young man named Taran, an assistant-pig-keeper who stumbles into adventures where he helps protect his country from the evil forces of Arawn Death Lord.

[Image ID: The cover of The Book of Three, showing Taran hunkered down next to a tree root looking up at the Horned King. He’s a figure in red riding on a black horse, wearing an antlered skull mask and holding a sword above his head. End Image ID]
Continue reading “Reading Recommendation: Character Voice in the Chronicles of Prydain”