Recently I’ve been reflecting on growth. Growth as a writer, as a person, etc.

My current WIP (work in progress) is loosely based off an old manuscript. The difference between my writing style then (more than 10 years ago) and now is profound. During that time, I’ve lived more of life. I’ve written more poems and more books. I’ve become a mother. All of these things and more affect my writing.

It was my youngest kiddo’s birthday the other day.

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The first picture is the cake I made for him. He’s obsessed with sea creatures.

The second picture came up in my memories from 3 years ago. It was what my cake decorating used to look like. The difference between the two pictures is staggering to me, and was a humble reminder that our first attempts at anything (like that old manuscript I’m salvaging for my current WIP) are not going to be perfect.

But those attempts are important. So are the ones after that, and the ones after that…

Practice is important. Perseverance is important. Oh, and having passion for the thing you’re working on is important, too.

So even if what you’re working on seems frustrating or you think it’s not worth it… trust the process and follow your passion. ❤

The End (of Phantasmic Wars)

I’m one of those people who doesn’t like when a book ends. It’s hard to say goodbye to the characters I’ve grown to love.

You know what I found out? It’s hard as the writer, too.

Finishing the Phantasmic Wars series was more bittersweet than I had imagined it would be. Don’t get me wrong, writing The Return to Phantasmagoria was fun. It might have been my favorite book to write out of the whole series. But writing the ending brought up a lot more emotions than I had imagined it would.

The characters (Tom, Katie, Chad, Sharice, Melissa, Mr. Blackburn, Morgrim, Mrs. Taylor, the list goes on and on…) were like old friends, and writing the ending for them (as much as I loved the ending) was like writing goodbye.

Confession: I’m not planning on writing any more books about these characters. But I might return to Phantasmagoria myself with other characters someday.

For now, I’ve left Phantasmagoria behind and am now working on a standalone fantasy novel, which has its own unique characters and setting. I can’t wait to share more about that soon!

Until then, I hope you enjoy the Phantasmic Wars series. I’d love to hear which book is your favorite!

~El Holly

My First NaNoWriMo Experience

Well, that title is a lie.

Truthfully, I tried NaNoWriMo in the past, and it didn’t stick. I didn’t finish. I ended up behind on my WIP (work in progress) and barely finishing it by the deadline I had set for myself (The Waking of the Nightmares…seems like I always have a tough time in the middle of writing a book or series, and an even tougher time in the middle of writing the middle book in a series).

So, to sum up, my first NaNoWriMo experience in 2018 was a failure.

But I found myself wanting to try it again this year. For those unaware of NaNoWriMo (short for National Novel Writing Month), the goal is to write about 1700 words every day for the month of November, so by the end you have a completed, 50k word novel.

If anyone else out there hates following guidelines to the letter like me, you will understand when I say when I decided to try it again this year, I also said, “But not to start and finish a 50k word novel! Oh no.”

Instead, I decided to finish my WIP (book 4 in the Phantasmic Wars series, which was over halfway completed when I began NaNoWriMo on Nov 1) and plow ahead into the next (and final) book in my series.

I didn’t write the full amount every day. In fact, I found the tracking part of the site interesting. As a teacher and a mom, the days with my highest word counts tended to be on the weekend, and the days with my lowest word counts were usually weekdays (with the exception of the Sunday after my birthday haha).


That exceptionally high word count day? That was when the end was in sight for book 4 in my series, and I was at my father-in-law’s, so my kiddos were distracted by all his fun toys. I finished book 4 that day, which I thought was more exciting than all the hunting going on.

Since Nov 9, I have been working on book 5 in the series. I’ve known how the series will end since I started writing, and so one of the first things I wrote was the first draft of the last chapter before getting started on the rest of the book. It has been so fun writing this last book, as everything is starting to come together!

While the snow fell outside today, I reached the 50k word goal for NaNoWriMo, which means I can officially claim this status: #NaNoWinner2019


And from here? Well, my editor has been busy leaving comments for me on book 4, and I still have about half of book 5 to finish.

Will I do NaNoWriMo in 2020? Most likely! I enjoyed the challenge, and have a few ideas for new projects to tackle.

For now, I need to rest, perhaps get in a workout (aka, go shovel…thank you, MN weather), and work on finishing book 5!


The Phantasmic Effect

My first audience for my story ideas is always my kiddos. They like to listen as I tell them my thoughts for certain plot points, characters, etc.
Well, over the years, I guess they’ve picked up a thing or two about how Phantasmagoria (the world of imagination and dreams) functions. 😉 Yesterday, my youngest brought over a Lego creation he made. “Look, mommy!” he said, proudly proffering his masterpiece. “I used my imagination and saved Phantasmagoria!”
I mean, if that isn’t adorable, I don’t know what is. 🙂
How will you use your imagination and save Phantasmagoria today?
~El Holly
Image by Enrique Meseguer from Pixabay

When Words Work Magic

Image by pixel2013 from Pixabay

I am always so grateful for the love and support of my family and friends, even if that support is by sharing my posts or talking about my books. I do not expect my family or friends to read my books simply because I wrote them. The Phantasmic Wars series is best enjoyed by those who love fantasy, adventure, suspense, and a little humor thrown in. Everyone has different tastes in books, and I understand that.

That being said, when my family and friends DO read my books and share their feedback with me, I hold it close to my heart.

My cousin recently picked up the first book in the Phantasmic Wars series. Here’s what she sent to me last night (shared with her permission):

I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I FINALLY started [Phantasmic Wars] and I absolutely love it!! My good friend was in a motorcycle accident last year and is in a nursing home recovering from a massive brain injury. So I thought reading to him would help stimulate his brain. I was looking for a book to bring and as soon as I found yours I knew it would be perfect. We read the first 5 chapters tonight and I was quizzing him as we went to make sure he was comprehending and defined words he didn’t understand. His eyes were lit up as I read to him, we love it so far! Thank you for giving me this wonderful gift to share with him. It meant so much to both of us. I can’t wait to get back there and read more!!

Honestly, reading this was the best way to start my Friday. I hope you are all having a wonderful Friday as well!

~El Holly


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Yesterday, I was not feeling well. I wanted to write, though. It’s just…the words were not coming.

Instead of giving up, I handed my laptop to my 5yo (yes, it’s still in one piece) so he could look at some Lego instructions, and marched myself to my bedroom.

Once there, I laid down on my bed, opened up my WIP on my phone, and proceeded to get a measly 511 words written within the span of a half hour.

That’s SO MUCH SLOWER than if I had typed.

But you know what?

Typing at my laptop, I wasn’t getting ANY words written.

I think 511 is better than 0 in this case, don’t you?

What do you do to get over writer’s block?

It’s been a while…

…also known as: I’m procrastinating from grading right now. 🙂

With the end of quarter 1 less than a week away (this Friday, yikes), I’m up to my neck in grading.

As you can imagine, the ‘book writing’ thing has been pushed to the wayside.

However, I had a student in my Creative Writing class encourage me to try NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) with her, and while I am not aiming for 50k words in a month (the traditional number to reach for the contest), I am using it as an opportunity to buckle down and finish book three already!

With less than 25k words left to go, I am confident I’ll reach the end of the novel by the end of November…and perhaps even start on book 4 if I am able to squeeze it in?

Finishing the third novel in my series, doing a couple of events, and turning 30…I’m ready for you, November.

~El Holly

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