Back at the Grind

Well, it’s going to take some time before I hear back from agents (it can take months sometimes), so all I can do it move forward and start setting the stage for volume two. It takes a little bit to get back into the groove, but once I have Aliyah back in the spirit well, I don’t doubt that I’ll be back to writing 4-5 pages a day. Just give me an energy drink and I’ll be good to go.


Currently, I’m working on becoming more active on social media and getting more followers. No longer can I assume that writing a good book is all it takes to get eyes on it. Now, I need to work on getting the word out to as many people as I can. You can also expect to see me promoting lots of other middle grade authors on there as well, hopefully building a nice community of support. That’s the goal, anyway. If you haven’t already, feel free to check out my Twitter (@TEHoltz) where I’ll be posting random things, including small moments from Aliyah and the Spirit Well.


On a more random topic, I went on what’s known as the “potato diet” recently to lose some weight. It’s mostly that you can only eat potatoes (with a few seasonings) and nothing else, but you can eat as much of them as you want. You do that for two weeks and you’ll pretty much always lose weight. While I did, indeed lose 4 pounds over two weeks (and I was cheating a bit), I wouldn’t recommend it. I would suggest moderating your sugar and fat intake, exercise, and using Cronometer, which is a wonderful tool for helping you keep track of what you’re eating and how much fat, sugar, carbs, vitamins, etc. that you’re getting. I highly recommend it.


To leave off, I’ll drop you this little-known song that a friend sent me. It’s a decent listen, so check it out.

The Final Countdown

With the new book having gone through 3 beta readers and an editor, all that’s left if for some final touch-ups to be made and then the dreaded querying process begins. To say I’m nervous would be an understatement, but there’s nowhere to move but forward, and it’s not like I haven’t been here before. I remember Magi of Gaia had a rough start, but I managed to pull through pretty well on that one. With this new series, my hopes are much higher than before (mostly due to even my most critical beta reader praising the book).


Now, it all comes down to being able to “sell” the book to a literary agent. Drafting up a letter that can get the attention of one is difficult enough, but then there’s a lengthy waiting period before they are usually able to get back to you. It can also be difficult to get your book picked up if you aren’t already semi-famous of having thousands of followers (neither of which applies to me), so yeah, it’s going to be an uphill battle. I can’t stress out, though. I have to be confident and never stop moving.


There’s not much else to say, but I think it’s clear that when this is all over, I plan to celebrate with sugary treats that are awful for me. It’s the only correct option.


Hmm … This wasn’t much fun, so let me end by sharing a nice song:

On Schedule!

Aha! Last month, I said that I expected to have the new book’s rough draft completed by the end of March, and I was successful in reaching that goal. It’s currently in the process of being beta read, and I still need to get it touched up, fully edited, and have artwork done before I can take the next vital steps in getting it released, but that’s to be expected. I’m happy that things are running smoothly, and hope they continue doing so.


With a new series getting started, I’m now faced with some new issues. You see, all my branding up to this point has been “Magi of Gaia”, even the website you’re reading this on now. So the question now is: do I make a brand new website and social media pages? I think it would be best to just move everything over to a new website and link everything together instead of having it spread out, and that sounds like it might end up being rather expensive, I’m afraid. I don’t mind taking the time to build a new website (which is as fun as it is frustrating), but I also don’t want to lose MoG’s website. The play here seems to be just to buy up all the website names related to my name and the names of the series I’m working on, and that may be what I have to do. Pray for my wallet, I guess.


I was too late getting this post out. If I had been more on top of things, I could have posted something on April 1st and made an April Fool’s Day blog post. I’m not sure exactly how that would have gone down, but it would have been fun to make, at least. Next year? Next year!

Two Steps Forward…

Can I complain for a moment? I mean, it’s my blog, but I wanted to set the tone for the first little bit of this entry. Got it? Good.


Yesterday, I wrote on the new story for several hours, and it was a lot of fun because I was essentially writing a story within a story. However, once I was a good ways in, I realized that the tone of the story had slipped into something much more dramatic and heavy than I wanted, forcing me to scrap almost the entirety of the work I had done up to that point. It soured my mood for the day, as you might imagine.


As an interesting side note, when I say I “scrapped” the writing, I don’t mean it’s gone forever. I’m surprisingly protective of anything I write and hate the idea of hard work going to waste, so I end up saving those scrapped paragraphs/pages in a file labeled “Deleted Scenes”. I figure it’s good to keep things like that, as hard work should never be wasted.


On a more positive note, the new book is nearing completion, and you shouldn’t be surprised if next month comes with the announcement of it’s (tentative) completion. There’s still beta reading, editing, and artwork that needs to be done for it, but we’re moving at a brisk pace towards the finish line, and I can only hope everything continues going this smoothly.


That said, expect the big announcement in the near future!

On A Roll

It was halfway through last month when I realized I didn’t do an update to the blog. Well, I can’t say you’ve missed too much. I’m still in good health, writing more than ever (though I took a week off to get my thoughts together), and had a decently enjoyable holiday season. I guess you could say I’ve been so focused on the new book that I just blocked everything else out that wasn’t family-related … so I will say that.


For a contrast to how well the book is coming along compared to the MoG series, I’ll say this: I’m over halfway through writing it already. It still needs a lot of love and attention, but I’m blazing through it at a considerable pace. I’m really enjoying coming up with puzzles and new ideas that can only really work because of the flexible nature of reality in the spirit realm. I want to get it finished and get a beta reader or two to look it over before moving ahead, though. I’m oddly confident that I won’t need to change much.


In terms of issues, the only problems I’ve had lately are staying engaged with social media. Sadly, I’m not really an interesting person, so aside from a few witty/snarky comments on Twitter and some reposts on Facebook (which less and less people seem to be using lately), I’m mostly just filling my time with writing, sleeping, errands, and whatever relaxation I can get inbetween.


Well, I’ll at least try not to fall behind on updating this blog again. Forgetting a once-a-month update is a bit embarrassing, and I don’t plan to make it a habit. Hopefully, next time I’ll have something more interesting to talk about. I mean, I could just be a total nerd and talk about my hobbies that have nothing to do with writing, but I’ll spare you … this time. If that dam breaks, you’ll all be in trouble.

Digging Deep

“Digging deep” is a term with several meaning, but what I’m referring to here is when someone reaches deep down inside of themselves to overcome odds that they would usually consider nearly impossible (usually in a pinch, for dramatic flair). I tend to love having characters “dig deep” and squeak out a victory. It’s fun and keeps the reader on edge.


I feel Magi of Gaia has a lot of that through its pages, considering how focused it is on high-tension fight scenes. However, as I draft up Aliyah and the Spirit Well, I notice that I keep working with this concept, even though the series is not focused on fighting, but on puzzle-solving. I’m still able to put Aliyah in tough positions and have her use her head to work around whatever is thrown at her. It’s not just that she can solve the puzzles, but that she struggles until the end and doesn’t give up.


I’m going to try to work on this new novel with that in mind. Aliyah has been raised by her puzzle-loving father all these years, so she’s developed a keen sense for what she should be looking for in terms of misdirection, red herrings, etc. With that foundation, she’ll have a slight edge when being challenged to solve puzzles under difficult circumstances, such as enduring freezing temperatures or deciding which piece of chocolate is poisoned. Things won’t be easy on her, even with her background, but that’s the point. She needs to be challenged beyond her usual means in order to dig deep and grow as a person.


In other words, I’m having a blast writing this story. It has managed to “dig deep” into my brain, apparently.

(Diagonally) Forward!

Spooky month is over, and that’s always sad, but it’s my cue to continue working. You see, I usually take the last week of October off because it’s almost my birthday during that time, so, to me, November 1st is the same as January 1st. It’s back to work and don’t stop until you’re about to drop … or at least until I hit a good stopping point. Whichever comes first.


There’s an odd thing happening, though. I’ve made it clear to just about anyone who would listen that I’ve been dying to get to volume three, and I’m certainly happy to write it now that I’ve made it here, but something strange happened over the course of the past few years that have diverted my attention: another story idea.


It’s strange, but this new story has been consuming even more of my imagination than Magi of Gaia usually does (which is no small feat), so I decided to take some time during my break and put some ideas to paper. It was fun and surprisingly fulfilling, just like when I write of MoG. For now, I want to work on it a little longer, until I either feel the urge to write it fade or finish it entirely. Of course, I’m not done with MoG. I’m not even having any sort of writer’s block with it. I could get back to work on it right now, but I’m drawn to work on this other story.


What kind of story is this new one that is hijacking my attention? Surprisingly, it’s a more kid-friendly book aimed towards middle schoolers to high schoolers. It’s not so concerned with fighting, but there’s still magic involved as well as my specialty of characters slowly growing over time (especially the main character). It’s set in our world at modern times, but where magicians use magic in secret.


The main character is a young girl named Aliyah who lives with her father, a work-from-home writer, and mother, who is almost always out of state working. Aliyah has recently moved and finds it difficult to make friends, mostly due to her shyness. As a result, she’s often alone both and home and school, playing a game on her phone. She’s slowly getting used to the idea that she might be what they call a “loner”.


Her father is a loving, yet strict, parent who primarily writes books on riddles, and he often shares his riddles with her, just for fun when she was younger, but now that she’s older and quite good at solving them, he often uses her to test out new ideas to see if they’re too easy or too hard.


One day, her father decides to go to the library for research material and talks Aliyah into coming with him. There, Aliyah comes across her father’s books and is struck by how strange it is to see his name on a book in a library. She ends up grabbing a few of his books and sits down, flipping through them, recalling be told most of them, and often helping with others.


While she looks through the books, feeling a bit nostalgic, a woman walks up to her and starts a conversation. Aliyah doesn’t know her and has trouble communicating through her shyness, but holds a small conversation as she admits that she likes solving riddles and thinks they’re fun. The woman seems pleased by this and offers Aliyah a book of riddles that she was looking to donate to the library, but figured Aliyah would like to enjoy it first. Aliyah isn’t comfortable with accepting a stranger’s gift, but when the woman insists, Aliyah gives in and accepts it, figuring it’s just a normal book.


Of course, it isn’t a normal book, and the moment Aliyah opens it, she finds herself in a strange, stone room—a place she will get to know very well over time as a spirit well. Here, she’ll work to solve increasingly difficult riddles and trials, gain a new magical ability for each level she passes, and, through accident, incident, or sheer effort and personal growth, make some friends along the way, in terms of both humans and spirits.


There’s a lot more to the story than this, but that’s the general opening. What is a spirit well? Who was the woman that gave Aliyah the book and for what purpose? What kind of magic does she gain and how will they affect her trials? What happens if Aliyah uses magic in public? There’s much to learn, but if you’re interested, let me know. I’ll be working on it either way, but it’ll be nice to know if there is a desire for this type of book. It may be aimed at a younger age group, but it should be entertaining for all ages.

Spooky Month Returns: The Revenge

You know what I love, and that’s October! It’s the perfect month to sit on the couch and watch some scary movies, play horror games, or watch people who are very entertaining play those games. It’s time for all the autumn foods to reemerge and for people to go crazy for pumpkin spice … even though it doesn’t have any pumpkin in it. Thinking about it, I don’t think I’ve had anything with pumpkin spice in it for several years. Maybe I should.


Of course, all the fun ramps up towards the end of the year with my birthday and Halloween. Sadly, people don’t really do any trick-or-treating around my area, so I don’t have a reason to get up my own decorations, but, as I posted last year, I love when people make really elaborate set-ups just so the neighbors can have fun.


Oh? You thought I wasn’t going to post a video this year?




Oh. Sorry. A little bit of my Spooky Month spirit slipped out for a second. My apologies. I think I should get back to work or I’ll definitely start slacking by looking for cool stuff online. I can’t let that happen, so I’ll end this here. Have a safe and happy Halloween!

What happened to August?!

No, seriously. What happened to August? I swear I had just made a blog post last week, and before I knew it, it was the 5th of September! I suppose it’s just another sign of how busy I am that time keep flying like this. I’ve been trying to be more active on my Twitter account, too … for better or worse. Even after this blog entry, I have to fill out a ton of paperwork dealing with personal matters, so even my weekends are a bit hectic.


That’s enough complaining about my own time mismanagement, though. A much more pressing issue is that I’ve put the side story on hold for now. Despite the fact that I’ve been brainstorming on it for ages, it just isn’t turning out the way I imagined, so I’m going to let it simmer a while longer while I turn my attention to … working on volume 3!!!


I may have mentioned this before, but I’ve been wanting to get to volume three since I started writing Magi of Gaia. I’ve had all the volumes planned out well in advance, and the third will have the best fight scenes and … wait. No spoilers. I definitely want to, but I have to be careful not to. I’ll leave the part about fight scenes because anyone who has read the first two volumes already knows to expect a fight or two … or three, so I don’t consider that a spoiler. Besides, the fights are all about the substance of the fight, not the actual blows.


Um … I honestly wasn’t planning to make a blog today since I only just realize August ran away and hid somewhere while I wasn’t looking, so there’s not much more for me to say. I’m still working on various side jobs for the time being (and just reduced my prices since it’s all about your rating in the beginning), and my writing for volume three is continuing steadily. I wish there was more to talk about since I don’t want to get to that paperwork I mentioned earlier, but I guess I’ll end this one here.


I hope everyone stays safe out there!

Always Improving

Well, this month turned out to be a bit more hectic than I first assumed it would be. It started off well enough with my working on the new side story, but it wasn’t progressing all that smoothly. It took me almost the entire month to get to a point where I realized it simply wasn’t hitting me the way I wanted. So, with the first half of the story nearing completion, I decided it might be a good idea to just scrap it and redo the whole thing. This, of course, raises a whole new set of issues, but I’d rather a story be as good as it can be than just “fine” or “passable”.


Other than that, I’ve been looking into some doing some very minor jobs on freelance sites to supplement my income. Though there has been an uptick in sales recently (and I’d love for it to stay on this upward trend), the truth is that it simply isn’t enough quite yet, and my funds are starting to run low. I don’t need a ton of extra money, just enough to offset my monthly bills, so it won’t really interfere with my writing too much, but finding a stable position with limited hours in the first place can be difficult.


On a completely unrelated note that has absolutely nothing to do with the previous paragraph, remember to support my Patreon account if you are so inclined. It would also be appreciated.


There hasn’t been much more going on than that. Like I said, it’s been hectic, and now I’m shifting between looking for a little bit or work, brainstorming how to rewrite the side story from scratch and still be able to get it to where I need it to be, and finally starting on volume 3. It’s going to a long month, but hopefully a fun one, too!