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  • Writer's pictureKristina Elyse Butke


Snowy tree branches and bokeh of snowflakes on a blue-gray sky - Fantasy Indies December
Photo by Chandler Cruttenden on Unsplash

I did one of these for October when I saw it in my Twitter feed. Well, the December version appeared in my timeline and I decided to jump on it for the month! Granted, I'm not sure how I'm publishing my books at the moment (trying for traditional but not ruling out self-pub), so I'm not exactly an indie writer right now, but I thought these prompts would be a lot of fun! They're brought to you by @Chesney Infalt and @LydiaVRussell. Enjoy!


1 - Introduce yourself and your WIP

Hello! I'm Kristina and if you read this blog regularly, you know that I write fantasy for upper YA readers and New Adult readers. I'm currently working on rewriting my graduate thesis, The Name and the Key, from scratch. It's about a young woman named Lily who has a secret curse: she sees her dead mother in every mirror and reflective surface, begging Lily to save her; meanwhile her best friend Andresh has become a powerful magician with plenty of secrets of his own.

2 - Free Friday

So, I saw someone post about this on Twitter and they used "Free Friday" for a book giveaway. Well, I am bookless, so I won't be doing giveaways until I have something to give away! So I interpret this as a choice to talk about writing The Name of the Key freely and without prompt.

I recently broke 11,000 words on the manuscript, It took me longer than I wanted because some of the scenes proved to be difficult to write again. It's been hard trying to decide what to keep and what to scrap, but so far I've been scrapping a lot. The pacing is more brisk than it appeared to be in my thesis, and I've tried to keep chapter lengths consistent at about 11 pages. I'm still uncertain about my first chapter. Based on all the agents who make a decision based on the opening chapter, I am a little worried I didn't go into the conflict enough. I'll probably come back to chapter one later and see what I can do.

3 - Snippet Saturday

I mentioned this when I did the October prompts, but I am super paranoid about sharing my work online before it is published. I'm worried about theft and plagiarism and all that jazz, so when these specific prompts come up, I'm going to have to pass. Sorry!

4 - Naughty or Nice

I would say my lead Lily is nice, and so is her sister Lainey. As for Andresh, he's a bit naughty. He's done some regrettable things, though overall is a good person, I think.

5 - Christmas celebrations in WIP

While my characters say "oh my god" and there's a funeral that resembles Christian burial traditions (although I didn't include a priest; I just called it a ceremony), and hint that the "word" was the first thing in the beginning...I don't have anything overtly religious or Christian in the book. That's because this book takes place in a different world than our own (but is like it), so Christmas wouldn't be appropriate because it doesn't exist.

6 - Choose your outfit for the Yule Ball

While there is no winter party in The Name and the Key, I did base the time period off of the Regency, so there is a Season with a ball. Lily wears a silk-like gown and long white gloves and slippers, typical of Regency wear. I have her wearing a dark red gown.

7 - The perfect gift

When Andresh returns from Sindalia, he gives Lily a small ring made of silvery metal with glass beads of light green and pale purple. He didn't get the size right, so Lily wears it on her pinkie finger, and she wears it all the time, even into adulthood.

8 - Is your MC a grinch?

Definitely not! I hope readers like her!

9 - Free Friday

I don't consider Lily to be a self-insert at all, but I did base her hair color and skin color off of my own, and Lainey's off of my sister. I'm essentially black-haired and my sister was born blonde; I'm super pale while my sister has warm skin; and people didn't think we were related to each other growing up. I kept that dynamic between Lily and Lainey in the book when it comes to their appearances, although Lily's hair is stick-straight and Lainey's is wavy.

10 - Snippet Saturday

I do have a story about a snippet. So...when I first heard actor David Matranga's voice, I flipped out because his voice sounded like Andresh's in my head. Well, David was doing an online convention during COVID and you could pay to have him record a line of dialogue. I chose a snippet Andresh says from the book and got a recording of David reading it! It's one of the geekiest, most self-indulgent things I've ever done!

11 - Family in WIP

Family is a very big thing in The Name and the Key. Lily is a member of the Bellamy family, and she lives with her mother, father, sister, and grandmother. Andresh Zatavier lost his mother while she was giving birth to him, and he's an only child, living with his father Jolan. But he has lots of family in Sindalia that he got to meet while visiting there for his grandfather's funeral. Family is a big part of the story in my book!

12 - Winter book pic

I have plenty of book pics from artists I hired back in the 2010s, but nothing set in the winter time! Waaah! Also, I made major changes to the characters' appearances (only Lily looks the same) so even if I shared the art, it wouldn't be accurate anymore. So...I guess just imagine a beautiful paperback sitting on top of the snow!

13 - How would your MC spend a snow day?

Lily would drink hot chocolate--this would be a delicacy but since Lily's father became a merchant and they have a shop, Bellamy Mercantile, they have enough money to afford it. Not all the time, but enough for a special treat now and again.

Then Lily would go outside along the pier and feed the seagulls. She'd feel bad for them because it would be so cold outside.

14 - Funny writing mistakes in your WIP

I repeat myself all the time. So when I find echoes of specific words after I've submitted them, I get really annoyed with myself. I don't know if it's a memory thing or what, but it happens too frequently. I can't think of an example with The Name and the Key right now, but I used the phrase "like watercolors" in Son of the Siren at least three times. Oops.

15 - Games in WIP

I made up a card game called "Kingdom" that was based off of tarot and Stratego. But I didn't make up rules or anything like that in detail, I just used aesthetics from each. Each suit was a different kingdom, and you had to draw cards and invade each person's deck. It doesn't actually make much sense, so it's good I hardly talk about it in the book. I might change this, too.

16 - Free Friday

When I would submit The Name and the Key to workshops at residency, people automatically assumed the book was written in the traditional fantasy Medieval/Renaissance era, which always bummed me out because I was trying so hard to convey Regency details. I'll be adding more to this version of the book in order to make it clearer that's what I'm talking about.

17 - Snippet Saturday

Nothing to see here.

18 - How does your MC like their hot chocolate?

Lily likes her hot chocolate with a dash of cinnamon in it.

19 - How would your MC react to Krampus coming instead of Santa?

Lily would be like, "meh." She's already seen horrifying things in her life that Krampus wouldn't faze her. It might freak her sister Lainey out, though.

20 - Would your MC prefer to live in a big city or a small town?

Lily has lived in both. She was born and lived in Rookwood until she was thirteen, then her family relocated to Mariner, a bustling port city, when her mother died. Lily likes to be out in nature, though, so she prefers the smaller town. However, she finds a lot to enjoy in Mariner.

21 - Perfect Winter Feast

Well, since I'm going Regency about it, according to this article, a perfect feast would be like a 25-course meal. They'd start out with soup so I'd choose a lobster bisque--I don't even know if they had that back then--and then the main meat would be chicken or turkey or some kind of poultry. I know there would be a ton of other food there but I'm having a hard time imagining what else my characters from The Name and the Key would eat!

22 - Holiday Movies and Books

It would seem weird to answer this from the POV of my characters, so I'm just going to answer it myself. I will always watch some adaptation of A Christmas Carol whether it's the George C. Scott version or the Muppets or even Bill Murray in Scrooged. I will also watch Little Women (Winona Ryder or Saoirse Ronan versions). Then I'll check out Netflix's cheesy holiday choices to watch self-indulgently (or lightly tease). As for books, I don't really seek out holiday novels, but I own a couple Nutcracker-inspired stories I haven't read yet that would be good to look at.

23 - Free Friday

The reason why Andresh has such long hair in the novel is nothing special. He says they wear it that way in Sindalia, but honestly, it's because I like handsome, long-haired men from anime, so he got that hair. He wears it in a long braid most of the time. I love his character design.

24 - Snippet Saturday

I plead the fifth!

25 - Merry Christmas!

I don't have Christmas in my book but I do have in the opening chapter a whole scene of gift-giving. Andresh and Jolan have just returned after two years in Sindalia and they both brought presents for all of the Bellamy family. I hope readers find this to be a heartwarming little scene!

26 - WIP Moodboard

Blue and red fire, a woman in water, old-fashioned mirrors, a stone angel, and blue smoke on a black background- moodboard for the name and the key
Images sourced from Unsplash

27 - If your MC were a candle, what scent would they be?

Lily cares very much about cleanliness and what she smells like, thanks to some trauma in her past, so she often wears scented lotions or bathes in scented water. Her most favorite scent is jasmine, so that's what her candle would be.

28 - Travel in WIP

The biggest travel in the story is the Bellamys moving from Rookwood to Mariner, but I don't narrate that happening--I have a time jump in between locations (six years!). They would travel by horse and wagon. Andresh also goes to Sindalia, but we don't really see that happening (he'll have a book of his own all about that). He would travel by ship. Um...otherwise my characters do a lot of walking or riding!

29 - Winter Flash Fiction

I'll write a haiku instead. How about that?

Crystal shards of ice

Scattered among blues and grays

Glistening daggers

...I don't think I like that, but whatever.

30 - Free Friday

Part of the reasons why I'm not giving up on my graduate thesis has to do with my characters Lily and Andresh. I really stand by the relationship I wrote for them, and people remember them (especially Andresh). I didn't want to say goodbye to these characters or hide them from the world, so I'm hoping someday all of you can meet them soon!

31 - Goals for 2023

The big goal for 2023 is to finish The Name and the Key. My deadline for it is in May but if I can finish it sooner, that would be grand! And I hope upon hope I can make it a trilogy!

Roses and branches and snowflakes with list of things to write about every day in December
Image from Twitter


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