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


IMG_20190317_164455_293 (1)

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

Image result for bring it on meme

A little poetry to start the day…

In between writing YA novels, I love to journal and write poetry. Often the two go hand-in-hand, as poetry for me, ever since I was twelve and discovered a love of poetry, has been a mode of self-expression, an outlet to express feelings or work through ideas. I don’t share my poetry often or with many people (though, spoiler, I am working on a little poetry collection, which will be set to publish at some point in the next year!). However, today, I would like to share a short poem I wrote earlier this year. I call it “inspiration” because how often is it that inspiration comes, not as a full force idea, but as a whisper in the dark?



It isn’t a call so much as a whisper

But I hear it nonetheless

And that whisper beckons me


Hypnotizing me.

I listen to its siren voice

And it’s so tantalizing

To sit and tilt my head

Until it’s just right

And the whispers tickle my ears.


Do you have any favorite poets or maybe some poetry of your own you’d like to share? I’d love to hear your suggestions and/or read your work! Email me at or send me a message on Facebook.

All the best,

El Holly

Upcoming Events and Other News!

If you’ve been following me on Facebook or Instagram, you know about my excited “wearing my pajamas but can’t wait to share” post regarding my most recent upcoming event: WINCon, at the Winona Public Library!

A breakdown of info for that event:

When: Saturday, July 21 from 10-2

Where: Winona Public Library, 151 W 5th St, Winona, MN, United States 55987

Link to the WPL Page regarding the event:

For my other news…

Now that I’ve had the chance to do some events and talk to other authors, I have made the decision to change the pricing on my books as well.

Print copies are now $9.99 through Amazon, and e-books are now $3.99. However, at events I’ll be offering the print copies for an easy $10, tax included (and no S&H!).

I did not make this decision lightly, and took a few weeks to think on it before making the change. However, I want to make sure that the Phantasmic Wars books remain reasonably priced while also reflecting the amount of work which has gone into creating each book from start to finish. (I’m sure I’ll have the occasional sale when new books in the series are released as well, so keep an eye out for those.) 🙂

I have a few more potential events in the works, so I’ll post an update on those when I know more!

Until then,

El Holly

A Sweet Review!

Back in March I had the pleasure of giving my first author talk at a school. The day went fabulously, and I was so grateful for the opportunity.

Well, fast forward a few months to an email I received from the librarian at the school…one of the students had submitted a book report for The Book of Imagination!

With the student’s permission, I am sharing the report here. I have removed the student’s name for anonymity and also edited some parts for clarity.

Here’s the sweet review:

Title: Phantasmic Wars

Author: EL Holly

Genre: Fantasy because there are five friends who will be going to a fantasy world called Phantasmagoria.

Point of view: Third point of view because the author is using Him, her a lot.

Author’s purpose: EL Holly’s purpose of writing the story is to get people to use their imaginations* and follow along with the story. I know because when I was reading she described the fantasy world that the five friends went to.

(*Yes!! This kid gets it!)

Setting: Earth and Phantasmagoria

Main characters: Tom, Chad, Katie, Sharice, and Melissa

Character traits: Tom is short but he knows karate and is strong, Chad is a middle schooler* like Katie, Sharice and Melissa but he is shy, Sharice and Melissa are friends and they work well together.

(*Almost a middle schooler – they are all nearing the end of their 5th grade year)

Connections: My book is text to world because the kid in my book gets special books like others in reality due to their hobbies of reading or learning. It is text to self because two character had the same traits like me* and they both were bored with learning like me sometimes. 😀

(*Love that this reader connected with the characters!)

Summary: The book has five kids and one of the kid gets a book from his teacher named Mr.Blackburn, then they had to work together to save their world because Mr.Blackburn’s brother is half human and half Phantasmagorian* so they will go to a whole new world.They have to find at least 3 artifacts and their friend to go to the next world. Each world has 1 artifact.

(*And plotting to seemingly destroy both worlds)

Conflict and Solution: The conflict was that when they enter the world one of their friend was missing and they also didn’t know where the artifact was. Solution was that when they found their friend she knew where the artifact was so now they just need to wait till they get to the next world.

I chose this book because I know there are many people who like to read and use their imaginations while reading. Others might just want a interesting book well, this is a perfect book for you then.*

(*Interesting book, gets you to use your imagination…I swear I didn’t pay the kid to write this!) 😉

Anyway, thanks for reading! I thought this student’s review was pretty great. For those who have read the books – do you agree with the student’s assessment? 🙂

Until next time,

El Holly

Upcoming Author Event

Whew, the last few months have been busy! Between end of school year craziness at my day job (teaching high school English online at MNVA) and mom life (being a mom of two boys under the age of 5 is no joke!), my writing has slowed down quite a bit.

However, that doesn’t mean I’ve been completely inactive! I’m making progress on Phantasmic Wars Book 3 (I’ll be sharing the title soon, so keep an eye out for another blog post for that), and I applied for and was accepted to my very first author event! Here’s the info for it:

Summit Flyer - General

Come if you are able! It’s free admission for all who are 21+. I’ll be there, as will many other local authors. If you already have a copy of The Book of Imagination and/or The Quest for the Artifacts, you can get them signed while you’re there!

I look forward to seeing you there if you’re able to attend!


~El Holly

Author Talk with NMA!

Today I had my first author talk at a school! It went fantastically (phantastically?) – the kids had such great questions and all groups (I met with K-8!) were attentive listeners. The staff were all fun and easy to work with and so helpful with getting me set up for the day.

Some of the most common questions asked:

  • How do you have time to write when you also teach and have kids?
  • What advice do you have for people who want to be authors?
  • How old are you? (My answer: older than you!)

I also had quite a few budding authors in the audience! Many kids said they had written stories or books. The most random thing was one of the students comparing me to T. Swift – haha!

All in all, it was a wonderful experience, and one I hope to repeat at more schools in the future. (Hey, friends, if you’re reading this and work at a school – let me know if you’d like to set up an author visit!)

~El Holly