Help me name my characters!

Help me namy my fantasy characters

Help me name my party!

The other night, I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep.

Because I was thinking about my books. And how it’s so hard to get them noticed.

Which made me think about writing a fairly mainstream epic fantasy story. The kind I usually find boring.

But what if I could make it fun?

What if I could make it so much fun that I really, really want to write this stuff?

Writer brain took up the challenge. I should have known… it really isn’t as if I need more story ideas. But I do need fun stuff.

So now I have five new characters, four of which still need a name.

Before I list them, let me explain: I’m a bit particular about names in my fantasy tales. I want them to be different from “Earth” names. No “Johns” and “Margrets” in my stories – unless they are Urban Fantasy set somewhere on this planet.

And somehow, the sound of the name needs to resonate with me, or I cannot get into the character’s head. Which means that any suggestions that I don’t pick are not “wrong”, they just may not resonate with me. And that is absolutely the fault of writer brain.


So here are the four people I’m searching names for. I have my wizard already, so I’m keeping him as a surprise for you. Yes, this is a classic quest party. This is classic, epic fantasy, after all. With a twist.

1) Middle-aged Female Fighter

xxx is the sheriff of the village where we start out. She’s blond, finally could grow her hair out, and she’s a no-nonsense kind of woman. She still keeps fit, working out daily, despite creaks and groans. She commands the respect of the villagers, and has driven off a few cheats and robbers. She’s content in her retirement, but when she sees injustice, she has to act.

2) The Lesbian Bard

Yes, she’s cliche. Yes, I will keep her.

xxx is a lively, funny, snarky person who finds magic in any song. Or turns any song into magic. She loves traveling, meeting new people and sadly, falls somewhat in love with the arrogant young druid snip you will meet next. Of course, she’s a redhead.

3) The Arrogant, Young Druid/Ranger Girl

xxx is full of herself. Yes, she’s powerful, and she can whisper-magic almost every animal around. But she’s also brash and arrogant and won’t listen to advice at all. More than once, she’ll ruin a plan, simply because she thinks she knows better. And if it weren’t for her familiar, Magpie xxx, the group would have ditched her long ago. Well, and of course, my wizard loves her as if she were his own grandchild…

4) The dark-skinned, young Assassin/Rogue

xxx doesn’t look like he could hide in a crowd, considering his dark skin. But he does so fabulously well. Of course, he has no idea of his unusual parents (I know but I won’t tell you right now) which is how he comes into his considerable powers during the course of the series. Yet even as a simple assassin, he’s extremely helpful to the group. And since the fighter saved his life once, his loyalty is to her.

Now, I will ask this question in my FB fan group, as well (Hannah’s Dragonriders) so you can post there, or simply comment below. I’ll compile a list and let you know in three days what I chose.

Help me name my characters!

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Watchbeasts on the Ceiling – An Intriguing Riddle for You

Meep - the Watchbeasts on the Ceiling


Let me tell you a little story – and a riddle – about watchbeasts on the ceiling. Yes, that did happen to me.

The Watchbeasts on the Ceiling

I have watchbeasts on my ceiling. Everyone here does.

They guard our safety, and they do so quietly and without a fuss for years on end.

Until they get hungry.

That happened the other night. It always happens at night, by the way.

I was woken from a strange dream by a loud chirp. Groping my way to awareness, I wondered how a grasshopper could manage to get into my bedroom. I live in town, we don’t really get grasshoppers, let alone the kind that can produce such a loud noise.


Then I realized it must be a watchbeast.

Of course.

There are only two ways to silence such a watchbeast when it gets hungry:

You either feed it, or you remove the food bowl. The problem is that removing the food bowl rendes them inoperable.


At that time of the day, or rather night, I had no other option but to remove the food bowl.

Which meant hauling up the ladder, climbing up to the ceiling and stealing that bowl.


That was a final sound of protest after removing the food bowl.

I like my watchbeasts, though, and I value their service, so I went out the next day and bought food for the two I keep in my apartment.

And in the afternoon, I fed both of them. They are back into watch mode, making sure I’m safe, being stealthily quiet and unobtrusive.

All is well.

Do you know what those watchbeasts are?

And if you can guess what in the world I’m talking about, post a comment. *grins*

Posted in English, Musings | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Bravery Comes in All Shapes – Flash Fiction

Starting the Flash of Magic posts today – I plan to write a tiny little flash fiction story every week, following writing prompts. And since I love fantasy, those tales might have a bit of magic in them.

Today’s flash fiction prompt: bravery, eagle, fox

Little Eagle and Quick Fox were walking along the river’s edge. It was spring, the salmon were running, and catching a few would feed their clan for a day or three.

Of course, the bears were also there and had already taken the best spots to catch salmon navigating the rapids.

Little Eagle sighed. “I don’t know how we can get any, with the bears there.”

Quick Fox shrugged. “They are all well fed. I think we’ll be okay. I’m going to walk out there and get our salmon.”

“Are you crazy? I’m staying here.” Little Eagle sat down on a log to demonstrate his point.

Quick Fox just smiled. With slow, careful steps she walked out into the river, where the water boiled over the rapids. She picked a spot between two bears and simple got her net ready. The bears ignored her.

Soon, she had caught her first salmon and put it into her backpack.

Little Eagle felt sheepish. Wasn’t he supposed to be the brave one? And now his sister stood among those bears and was catching salmon looking as cool as a cucumber.

He took a deep breath and stepped out into the river himself. Holding his head high, he tried to hide his fear and demonstrate that he was just as good at catching salmon.

His foot twisted on a rock in the river and he fell, grunting and splashing.

One of the bears looked at him and growled.

Little Eagle got up, lost his balance again and flailed his arms.

“Go back, brother,” Quick Fox called to him in a very calm, cheerful voice. “You’re upsetting the bears.”

Two of them were now looking at him, and one was posing.

“Go back, brother,” Quick Fox said again. “I’m almost done and we can go home.”

No,  he thought, how can I do that? He took one more step towards the bears.

One of them dashed towards him.

How was it able to run that fast in a river with lots of rocks?

Little Eagle knew he couldn’t run. Knew he wouldn’t be able to fight. He could barely move.

The bear stopped right in front of him and growled again.

“It’s… it’s all right,” he heard himself say in soothing voice.

The bear stood up on its hind legs, towering over Little Eagle.

“Oh, Brother Bear,” he said, his voice trembling. “I’m already leaving. Please go back to your salmon.”

The bear dropped back down. Once more, it growled at him, before it left.

It took a while before Little Eagle could move again. Then he turned and made his way back to the bank of the river on unsteady legs.

Just as he stepped out of the water, the cheerful voice of Quick Fox reached him. He looked, and she was almost next to him already.

“That was well done, Little Eagle,” she said. “Quite brave of you to stay there and talk down the bear.”

He straightened his shoulders. If she said he was brave, then maybe he had been. Even though he felt like a loser when he had caught nothing.

“But you got the salmon,” he protested.

“I did. By making myself small and unthreatening.” She smiled at him. “Bravery comes in all shapes.”

What do you think?

Did you like this little tale? Please leave a comment.

Posted in Flash of Magic | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Egg

You see, here’s this egg.

It’s a strange one.

It’s not like a bird egg. It’s all craggy and wrinkly and rough.

I’ve seen and handled enough bird eggs to know this is not one.

And yet, it’s an egg. Quite clearly.

Well, maybe it’s just a rock. It’s cold and heavy, too.

But something… something tells me it an egg, not just an egg-shaped rock.

So I took it home, and now I’m showing it to you.

You don’t think it’s an egg?

You think it’s just an old rock, worn down by the elements?

Maybe an old volcanic bomb?

Hmmm. Quite possible.

But you know what?

I’ll just keep it on my desk for now.

Because maybe, just maybe…

it’s a dragon.

Posted in Flash of Magic | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spring Thougts – a Poem


When nature renews itself.

When it steps out of winter, when it returns to growth.

When it is alive again.





Two days ago, Notre Dame burned.

Tears. Shock. Grief.



It’s not as bad as it seemed, the cathedral is still standing, it’s safe.

It will be rebuilt.

A new roof.


Even for a cathedral.



Let’s make it spring for our world.

Let’s step back into life, into our full humanity.

Let’s rekindle hope, love, kindness, caring and support.




Posted in English | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Some Fall Thoughts

Today, I’m sharing some cranes with you. I just took their picture as they were circling above my home town.

They are moving south, preparing for winter. In fact, I think they are a little late.

I tend to prepare for winter my way: Retreating from the word, cuddling up in my apartment, lighting candles, reading a lot, drinking a lot of tea and sometimes, playing soft music. Or a thunder app.

And of course, I’m thinking of dragons. I’m writing the sequel to “Dragon Prey”, something that is only happening because fans asked for it. And my writer brain obliged with a fascinating scenario – one that will test Sidren’s Clan.

And looking at those cranes – they make it easy to think of dragons, don’t they?

Reminder: My newsletter goes out on the 13th, with a new little Ember adventure.

See you then!

Posted in Musings, The Cloud Lands Saga | Leave a comment

Changing Things Around

So you may have noticed something about this site – it no longer opens on the blog.

I did that on purpose. Yes, indeed.

Because, my friends, I’m getting serious about my newsletter. And I want visitors to know that there’s a nice present waiting for them when they sign up.

But even more important, I want to send it out regularly. Because I’m weird, I plan to send it out monthly – on the 13th. Because I think that’s a lucky number.

And it’ll have news and some previews and links to stuff you can only see if you know it, and most of all this:



Meet Ember.  She’s basically my pet.

Because at the moment, I can’t really have a pet. I’d love a dog, but I live on the 4th floor, and all those stairs are hard on dogs. And they are banned from my day job work place, so meh.

And I literally have no space for a little box in my apartment. No, I’m not fibbing, but since I use part of it for clients, and I have a really, REALLY small bathroom, it’s just not possible.

And no, I’m not a fan of birds, or fish, or rodents, and a horse won’t ever fit into here… so more meh.

But we all know that pet content is cool and draws in people. Ember will do that for me and you. You’ll see her go on little adventures in my newsletter.

Wanna see her? Sign up through that form on the right hand side. Or through this link.

And I promise: No spam, and I’ll never ever sell your email, either.
(And hey, you can always unsubscribe.)

Oh, and you’ll get to download “Borderline” for free, too.



Posted in Musings | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Changing out of a Bipolar Writing Habit

Little Laptop

Little Laptop

Today, I want to talk about a rather big change in my life. One that’s providing structure and happiness, in more ways than I expected.

You see, I finally decided to use my EFT knowledge and experience to get myself some writing discipline. I wanted to become a professional writer, with a professional attitude and writing habit.

In order for you to understand the magnitude of this shift, you need to know that I used to write in a rather bipolar manner.

Bipolar Writing

On the one hand, I used to go for spurts of massive writing, hours and hours per day, being completely consumed by the story, immersed in my world, for months on end. In fact, when I started writing, that phase lasted for a few years. Yes, it was somewhat insane.

On the other hand, I’ve stopped writing for months and years in between. Completely dried up. Okay, for part of that time, I focused on EFT and the awesome changes it can facilitate. And I got training and passed the exame for my license as therapist. But writing just went out of the door.

Until it came back with a vengeance. Or until November came around with NaNo, and I burned myself out with doing 2k per day during it.

For the last few years, the pattern held. Months of massive writing, followed by months of blocks. I knew that wasn’t productive. It probably wasn’t even healthy.

This pattern wreaks havoc with any publishing schedule, after all. I lost lots of readers because I couldn’t finish part 4 of my Cloud Lands Saga series until a year after the rest. I started stories and let them wither. (I have dozens of unfinished stories and ideas on my hard drive.)

So eventually I thought I should fix that. And I have the means – I am an accomplished EFT practicioner, coach and therapist. I have helped many others change their habits, let go of beliefs and lift blocks. I just needed to apply that knowledge to myself.

So on June 4th, I made a decision:
I decided to use EFT tapping to write 1,000 words per day.

That kind of decision is crucial for any change, by the way.

It wasn’t easy. I struggled with it for a week or three. Several times, I needed to tap on my resistance, my fears, my blocks. And I had a few friends who tirelessly encouraged me in chat. Most days, I forced myself to write in the evening, after procrastinating for most of the afternoon.

I failed twice.

Once because I wrote such an intense scene that I couldn’t go on, although I was only at ~600 words. That’s okay. And the second time because I had a very, very rough day and ran out of energy before I could write. Blergh.

Twice. That was all. And I could forgive myself for that.

After four weeks, it became a bit of habit.

I found a structure that helps – I write in my evenings, it’s usually the last thing I do in the day. That works, because by now, writing is a source of happiness, and I like going to bed happy. I also have accountability, in my own FB group, with my chat friends, and on MeWe. And I keep a WordCount file.

Then I changed something else: I started using my cute little Acer laptop for my writing and started sitting on my balcony while doing it. (Which works perfectly because right now, we’re having a very nice summer in Germany, with late sunsets.) No distractions. Just the file, the story, and me.

Writing has become my happy time, a source of great satisfaction. But I only write for about an hour max, which means I’m not burning out on it. And for the last two weeks, with the help of balcony magic, I’ve been writing ~1,300 words per day. In flow. Easily. With Joy.

The Results

Since I started this new journey in writing, I have finished “Dragon Prey,” a novella set in my Cloud Lands world, much earlier than the other stories, though. That one has taken over a year to complete.

My first beta reader is on it. My cover designer is holding a spot for me. I’m aiming for a release in September. It’s exciting!

I’ve moved on the part 3 of a Science Fiction trilogy that I like to call “The Franssisi Chronicles”. The main character is a young human man called Zell, so whenever you see me mention him on FB or other social media, that’s the trilogy I’m referring to. I’m saving the parts up for a rapid release to launch my new pen name – Joanna Steenen – who writes explicit bed scenes.

Depending on beta readers and covers, I may actually get that out in October/November. I’m scaring myself, to be honest. And I need to really learn how to set up a good launch.

Want a preview of the blurb for the first one, “Captive”?

They catch him.
They make him a bed pet.
But Zell is not a pet by nature.

He is one of the few Wild humans left on Franssisi Four.
And as his Dile master finds out, his nature is indomitable.

There you go (yes, I am proud of it, so there). And no, it’s not truly about the bed scenes, although they are essential to the plot.

The Big Picture.

Writing like this, with predictable speed, allows for more planning that I’ve ever had for my writing. Yes, I still need to add systems for editing and formatting. I may choose to outsource more of that. This is all in the future.

The foundation, however, is regular production. And I finally put that into place.

The best part is that I’m having a ton of fun with that regular production. In fact, I am very glad I shifted out of that unpredictable writing into a very satisfying, joyful habit of writing every day.

My life is much, much happier because of this.

Which is the best part of all.

Happy writing, my friends!

Posted in English | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: The Coming Storm, by Valerie Douglas

Cover - The Coming Storm

The Coming Storm

It all began on Facebook. I don’t even remember who started the thread.

We were talking about horses in real life, and horses in stories, and Valerie mentioned Smoke, a horse in one of her stories. A stubborn gelding with personality and grit, and I thought I’d really like to read that tale.

And so I bought “The Coming Storm”, and started reading it on my vacation, a few days ago.

It starts out deceptively slow. It even takes a few chapters before me meet Smoke, and then he’s just the annoying horse of a friendly side character.

Naturally, he is annoying one of the main characters, and a few chapters later, Smoke saves her life. And he does more. He takes Ailith to the man who will become her best friend and ally, and he carries her through many adventures and close scrapes.

Of course, there’s also much traveling, tension and terror, a terrible threat and fierce battles, as well as magic. There are Elves, Dwarfs and Men, a High King and Wizards, there are politics and intrigue, and there is unspeakable evil.

There is everything that matters in an epic fantasy tale, and more. There is even a dragon, although I won’t say more than that about it.

For more detail, you will simply have to read the book.

But be prepared. You will need some tissues at the end, and you will need to go to Amazon and buy the sequel.

Fair warning.


The Coming Storm on Amazon

Posted in Review | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Borderline – a Cloud Lands Short Story

"Borderline" Cover


Well, “Borderline” is up on Amazon and all the other other vendors.

And in addition, you can sign up to my newsletter and download it for free as a gift.

But what is it all about?

I wrote the tale for a project which had two basic topics: Winter and Romance.

In addition, I wanted to create a short story set in my Cloud Lands world, simply so I could gain more readers through it.

Yes, that’s writing to market, in a way, and I’m not ashamed of that. Because I hope it’s still something you, my dear readers, enjoy.

And I quickly decided that this would be a story about Ylanda, a dragonrider I discovered while writing “Dragon Court” (which is Book Three of the Saga). She dropped a hint about her and her dragon Rakild knowing how to live rough, and that got me thinking.

What if she had been a scout, guarding the border between the Western Kingdom and the Carmine Empire? That’s a region with a huge series of mountain ranges, very hard to control, very hard to even survive in. Only dragonrider scouts have a chance, the area is too rough for armies.

And of course, the Carmine Empire would have its guards on the prowl, as well.

Which made for an interesting idea:

What would happen if Ylanda and a Carmine were thrown together in dire circumstances?

Now, if you have read my stories, I’m a firm believer in human goodness and good, win-win solutions. Not all of my characters can do that, obviously.

But I knew Ylanda could. And then I met Kerrin, and knew he could, as well.

Which made it huge fun to throw both together and watch them make it work. How far would they go? Well, that’s something you’ll have to find out yourself. *grins*

And once I finished the story, I had come to love Kerrin, as well. I couldn’t stand using him as a throw-away character, and I really wanted to find out what became of him.

Which is why I wrote him into “Betrayal”. And while I couldn’t reveal everything Kerrin has become since it’s mad, angry, delusional Ferren who sees him, you can certainly guess.

So how can I get it again?

If you want to read “Borderline”, you can sign up to my newsletter and get it for free. (Sign-up form is on the right sidebar, EXCEPT in Firefox, which for some stupid reason doesn’t show it. Apologies. Go to This Link to sign up if you can’t see the form.)

Or you can go to this Global Link and choose your preferred vendor if you want to buy it. It’s 99ct everywhere.

Borderline – Books2Read

Please consider writing a review if you enjoy the tale. Thanks!

Posted in English, The Cloud Lands Saga | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment