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  • Writer's pictureKristina Elyse Butke


A closeup of pink and white blossoms with green leaves. Fantasy Indies Maytober
Photo by Marivi Pazos on Unsplash

Why is it called Maytober and not May? I have no idea! Anyway, today's post is the monthly #FantasyIndies meme on Twitter! This meme was created by @ChesneyInfalt and @LydiaVRussell  and is meant to be done once a day on Twitter, but as we know, I like to make things into one big blog post. We'll be learning more about my WIP, The Name and the Key.


1. Introduce yourself and your WIP.

My name is Kristina Elyse Butke and I'm currently working on my next novel, The Name and the Key, which was also my graduate thesis. I've grown a lot as a writer and there were some major issues with the first iteration of the book, so I'm rewriting it to make it better, stronger, and ready for publication. It's about a girl named Lily who finds her mother's body in the marshes, and is haunted by her mother's spectral appearance in every reflective surface. The key to breaking the curse may lie with Andresh, her childhood friend, but he has secrets of his own.

2. Introduce your villains

I've got a few, but they're not clear-cut black and white with the exception of the demon Aineiron. That's the only villain I feel comfortable talking about for this post! They are a demon that is trapped in reflections and is always begging to be let out by a key, a person who can open all doors to all worlds.

3. Free Friday or Writing Update

I'm going to go with a writing update. Do I actually have one? NO! Another month has gone by where I haven't had the motivation or guts to look at my own work and continue. There is something off with me, and it's been that way for a while, that makes it hard for me to write. I really hope I get over this soon.

4. Snippet Saturday: Anger

I'm not going to be posting excerpts of the book due to theft and AI scraping, but I'm happy to talk about it. Lily gets angry at Andresh for disappearing, but her anger manifests as tears. This happens to me all the time; I cry when I get angry and it's just so frustrating...I thought I'd give that trait to Lily, too.

5. Morally gray characters

Isabelle, The Guardian, and maybe even Andresh!

6. How scary do you like the stories you read and write?

I think "scary" is such a subjective term, and I've been creeped out by writing but rarely frightened (except for maybe a few scenes by Stephen King I read while growing up). I love being creeped out in books, and I hope there are some scenes in The Name and the Key that you find creepy. This is a much darker book than Son of the Siren...although I made sure to put something creepy in that book, too.

7. Favorite fictional villain

The MCU's Loki. I really enjoy the character growth and Tom Hiddleston's performance.

8. Worst thing your MC has done

Lily hasn't really done anything bad except be jealous of her sister. Andresh has done bad stuff, but that's spoiler territory.

9. Villain quote

"Save me. Open the door."

10. Free Friday or share pet pictures

I don't have any pets (waaah!) so I'll just write freely about the book. When I was in graduate school I had a friend write a story with demons based on a real-life historical grimoire. I felt like it was so interesting and it inspired me to look into grimoires like The Lesser Key of Solomon and other books. I came up with a one-sentence story idea involving demons, but it never got off the ground. Later, I read Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson and fell in love with her portrayal of demons, too. I knew I wanted to get back into demons, and thought I'd add them to this new version of The Name and the Key. So I'm living out my demon dreams with this book!

11. Snippet Saturday - Action

There's only a couple action scenes in the book...and they were hard to write! Describing action in a thrilling way isn't my strong suit. I also have to sort of doodle a choreography of it in order to figure out the logistics of the scene. Sometimes I even act it out.

12. Mother/maternal figure in WIP

Lily's mother is such an important figure, even though she is gone almost immediately in the novel. She's an ill woman, and I sort of like to keep it ambiguous as to what may be the cause--is it mental illness? Something physical? Is it her personality? Or could it be a darker influence? Her existence is tragic, and she wasn't a perfect mother, but Lily loved her very much.

13. Weapons in WIP

This doesn't really come up.

14. Do your characters believe in ghosts?

Lily for certain has believed her mother's ghost haunts her. It's not until Andresh suggests it may be something else that she becomes open to other perspectives on it.

15. Monsters in WIP

Isabelle, Aineiron, and The Guardian. They're all demons.

16. Bad decisions in WIP

Andresh makes a ton of them. They're spoilery so I won't discuss them here.

17. Free Friday or Share something you're proud of

I've been really stressed out lately and freaking out about whether or not Son of the Siren is going to be successful, that I've forgotten to be proud of it and where I am today. It took me four months to get an agent and roughly a year to get a publishing dream has come true and it's a really big deal!

18. Snippet Saturday - Creepy/Scary

Lily's early visions of her mother's body and her mother's reflection are hopefully quite creepy to readers.

19. Hardships in WIP

Death plays a large role in the book. Lily loses her mother; Andresh loses his father. Each family has to go through the hardship of life without a parent. As someone who lost a parent unexpectedly, the pain of losing someone you love is hard to endure, so I feel a lot of what each character has to go through.

20. Share your writing tips

Honestly, I feel like I'm such a weird writer that I don't feel qualified to give tips. I don't plot; I don't write every day; I edit as I write; there are tons of "rules" that I break. Perhaps the only thing helpful I can share is to not doubt your process--something my mentors taught me at Seton Hill University.

21. Writing plans for the future

The Name and the Key is going to be a trilogy: The Name and the Key, The Step and the Walk, and The Fear and the Flame. That's going to keep me busy for a while. I have no idea if I have more stories in me after that.

22. Favorite mythical creature


23. Redemption arcs

Andresh should be getting one because he's made a lot of poor choices. I haven't written this yet, so I'm just guessing.

24. Free Friday or Share WIP aesthetics

Aesthetics wins! Here's my moodboard:

A collage featuring fire, smoke, a woman in water, an angel statue, and old fashioned mirrors in a dark background
Images from Unsplash

25. Snippet Saturday - Creature

Here's the the first iteration of The Name and the Key, I had a funky sort of hybrid beast monster that looked really cool...but in this version, I don't think there's going to be room for it. I'm sad to cut it, but I can't make it work in the new iteration of the book.

26. Villain Song

I don't know what to post for this! Maybe my favorite villain song? It's a toss-up between Ursula's "Poor Unfortunate Soul" or Scar's "Be Prepared." Hooray for a Disney childhood.

27. Sweet moments in WIP

I hope you find some of the moments between Lily and Andresh to be sweet.

28. Bitter moments in WIP

I suppose any moment where there is death or misfortune.

29. If the villain had won...

I want to write something here but it's kind of spoilery!

30. Art share/shout out an artist you admire

I really love and appreciate Juhaihai, the artist who did the character illustrations for my three leads in Son of the Siren. Juhaihai did do character art for The Name and the Key back in the day, but I'm probably going to pay for updated portraits of the characters in the future.

31. Monthly wrap-up's been a month of no progress. I think what I'm going to do is forward the manuscript for The Name and the Key, read all of what I have so far, and get my brain working again so I can get back to work.


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