Big Moves

I ended up skipping last month’s blog post while working on upping my advertisement strategy, becoming more active on TikTok and Instagram and less active on Facebook. Mostly Facebook wasn’t delivering (or I’m just bad at using it), so I decided to try out new venues. It’s hard developing a following on platforms where it seems like I can only view videos and such from people who already have several thousand followers, but you have to start somewhere, right? This is the start of my new, big move forward.


As I’ve posted before, my Instagram account is here.

Now, my new TikTok account can be found here. (If the link gives you any issues, it’s @teholtz)

I’d love it if you could follow them both!



This one is BIG. If you go here, not only can you snag yourself a free sample of the first TEN chapters of Aliyah and the Spirit Well (volume one), but you can read the whole volume by subscribing for as low as $1! Additionally, each week, I’m posting content from my rough draft for patrons only, meaning you can get a sneak peek at what’s ahead for Aliyah!


You can choose to subscribe, get the content, and then unsubscribe right away, but staying subscribed will support me and help ensure that more volumes are published down the line. As the art in the book is fairly minimal (outside of visual mockups of puzzles for the reader), most of the money will be going to get proper artwork done, as well as editing, proofreading, etc.


I can only make this happen with your help, so I hope everyone who reads this considers subscribing to my Patreon. Thank you for everything. I’ll keep working hard!

Holidays Are Difficult

Something you might not know about me is that I enjoy being alone, for the most part. I’m at my best when I’m cozy and focused on whatever task or hobby I happen to be doing at the time. I don’t like to go out often, and when I do, I like to return quickly. Most of my social interactions are online with old friends who live fairly far away, and we may meet up once in a blue moon, but that’s about it.


With that said, you can guess how well I do around the holidays. The family wants to get together, but I would prefer to stay inside and write, read, watch videos, or play games. I don’t dislike being with family, but I’m not a social butterfly, and I never have been one. Everyone has their own problems and/or drama that I have to tiptoe around, and it just ends up being stressful for me.


Maybe I’m in the wrong for not making much of an effort. I’m certainly only following along with others and doing almost nothing to contribute to bringing events together, but like I said, I would rather just be home by myself. After all, if I’m only hearing from some of my family around the holidays, then how close are we, really? One of my relatives got married recently, and I only found out about it through my sister, and she only knew about it because she read it on Facebook. You couldn’t at least send me a text?


So yeah, holidays are difficult for me in various ways. I had no intention for this blog entry to be so serious, though. It’s just nothing new has really happened. I guess that’s just how these things go sometimes.


…I hope my family doesn’t read this. That’d be awkward.

Back from “Vacation”

For a number of reasons, I tend to go on vacation towards the end of October, not least of which being I just want to enjoy the spooks and fun stuff around (and a bit after) Halloween. However, whenever I go on vacation, I never let myself get away from work. The best I can do is to make a rule where I don’t do any writing. Aside from that, my mind is still constantly on my story, sometimes about what comes next and sometimes about what might happen far down the road. I love writing, so I never get too far away from my stories.


I must say, I did have a lot of fun catching up on watching people play horror games (ones I’m too scared to play myself) and things like that. I watched a couple of Ghibli movies, Ponyo and Kiki’s Delivery Service, both of which were a blast to return to after not having seen them for a few years. Ponyo really is a masterpiece of animation, though. You can really see the time and effort that went into the visuals. Kiki’s Delivery Service was more about growing up and dealing with challenges in your life. Both were fantastic.


That’s pretty much it. I was fairly lazy last month, but there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s good to do some self care once in a while, as you don’t want to burn out. I hope everyone reading this gets in a good vacation of their own soon, too. Getting back into the swing of things afterwards might be a challenge, though. The first few days back are always tough. That’s what happens when you break your routine.

Return of the Spooky Month

IT’S SPOOKY MONTH! You know I love this time of year, and not just because my birthday falls right before Halloween (though that helps). I just love that this is the time of year where we teach children that sometimes scary things can be fun if you let yourself enjoy them. Whether it’s schlocky horror, jump scares, creepy atmospheres, or just general dressing up for trick-or-treating, it’s something fun that we can all celebrate together.


As for the writing, I really haven’t done as much as I would have liked since lack month, which makes doing any real update fairly difficult. I got caught up in helping a friend with his last minute schoolwork for college, helping him find the best wording possible for all sorts of things. I know you’re supposed to do the work on your own, but I think it’s fine since all I really did was offer suggestions. I don’t know. Feel free to criticize my decision if you want, but I’ll always help a friend who asks.


As the weather cools off, my attention turns to giving the house a thorough cleaning. It’s been a while since I really went all-in on some sprin—err, fall cleaning, and it’s getting to be that time again. The cozy weather tells me it’s time to get to work, but simultaneously tempts me to lie down for a good nap. What to do?


This year, let me treat you to a wonderful 2-HOUR video of the spooks to be had this year at Transworld. I just learned about it, and I’m still looking over the video, but it looks like a fun horror-themed event, so let’s check it out together!

Hunters, Fire, and a Giant Spider

Title catch your eye? Well, that’s what Aliyah and the Spirit Well’s second volume has in store (currently). The previous version of the same trial was a giant maze with rule that were fairly convoluted, so I changed it up. The current trial I’m working on (and let’s keep this just between us) is a sort of treasure hunt with a lot of mini-adventures and challenges packed in, all framed around a chase scene involving different types of hunters: a stalker, a trapper, and a tracker. Because there’s so much to show off, I’ll admit that it’s taking longer than it should, but it’s really fun, so I don’t think it’ll be an issue for the reader.



Aliyah continues to show small sparks of courage, but she’s mostly still cowardly, especially when she encounters the first two hunters, though I’m thinking of adding a comedic bit her final encounter, the tracker. The first two hunters were really good at scaring her, and the second one especially hit on a phobia of hers, so I’m thinking of having her become completely unafraid of the tracker, simply due to him/her not being nearly as scary as the trapper.



I know, I know. None of this really makes sense without reading the story. Heck, volume one is still looking for representation from an agent. Still, it’s fun to be able to discuss it, so here I am. Oh, and don’t be worried about possible spoilers. All of this can change, if I don’t like the flow, just like how I tore out the chapters about the maze and started over again.



Thankfully, I never really destroy an idea. Those chapters are tucked away along with all the other deleted scenes I had to remove/rewrite, so maybe they’ll see the light of day sometime, even if it’s just showing people what didn’t make the cut.



Anyway, spooky month is next month, and I’m already excited! Let’s go!

Technical Issues

I’m late! Rather, I had some problems last month getting a blog post added. Every year, for whatever reason, this website makes me manually input the security certificate in the website, or else everyone who visits gets told that they shouldn’t look at it. It’s a royal pain, but hey, at least it’s only once a year.


As for what I’ve been up to, mostly, I’ve been building my Twitter presence. I’ve gone from around 25 followers to nearly 300 at the time of this writing, and I plan to continue growing my platform every day. Not too bad, right? I know a large following on social media doesn’t mean much in terms of a person’s worth, but it does help show potential agents that you have a wide reach, and that’s my goal. Let’s hope it works!


I’ve also been fending off a friend who works night shift and keeps strange hours. This friend often forgets what hours I’m working and tends to want my attention the most during those hours. Do you know anyone like that? You don’t want to be too harsh, but after the third or fourth time, you have to show that you’re mad that they haven’t been listening to you. *Sigh* I’ve never been good with social situations.


Anyway, despite two months passing, not much else has been going on. No word from one particular agent yet. No amazing adventures going on. No lottery winnings (not yet). I may not lead a very exciting life, but I’ll continue moving forward, even if it’s a bit dull. I’m sure there’s something at the end of the tunnel that will be quite exciting!

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!