Nyssa’s Nuggets

“Be aware of your surroundings.”

Nyssa is always aware of what is going on around her, even when she is sleeping. Akitas are excellent guard dogs and she is no exception. She is also maddeningly NOSY—I call her Nosy Nyssa when we have to pause in our walk for her to watch the neighbor wheel his trash barrel to the end of his drive, or watch someone else back out of their garage. She also loves to follow and bark at my nephew when he walks down to the barn, EVERY time.

Though her being nosy means she often gets sidetracked by details, it also indicates that she takes in all that is in her vicinity and she sees the big picture around her.

Nyssa’s attention can be likened to the mindset I slip into when I’m working on a developmental edit.

It can be easy to get involved with the small details in a manuscript, but my awareness has to be about the larger elements of the story—character, pace, story arc, continuity, to name a few. Punctuation doesn’t really matter if the protagonist is a flat Mary-Sue that readers can’t care about.

The focus becomes which of these larger parts can benefit from some improvement and how that affects the other pieces of the narrative. If I suggest changes to one element, what other parts will the author need to work on to make those changes work, and what does that do to the overall story?

A developmental edit could be compared to a ball of yarn, but I think pieces of a larger picture or the layers of an onion are more accurate portrayals. The smaller parts make up the whole, and the whole is made of smaller parts. Right?

Like Nyssa, I may see the details, but ultimately I concentrate on the environment they are in to ensure it is the best it can be. Then the details usually fall into place for the author on their own.

Just like the neighbor who walks back up his driveway is of no consequence to Nyssa anymore. She understood the big picture, and the detail took care of itself.

Have a great week! Woof woof rooooooo! 🐕‍🦺


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Reblog — 5 Ways Paragraphing Supports Story — Writer Unboxed

After doing a challenging line editing assignment all weekend, I found this post on paragraphs to be a welcome refresher authors occasionally need.~

photo adapted / Horia Varlan If the last time you thought about paragraphing was when you learned that a paragraph was comprised of a topic sentence, three supporting sentences, and a conclusion, listen up: that staid structure will not have the power to draw readers into your story. 1,940 more words

5 Ways Paragraphing Supports Story — Writer Unboxed

Reblog — Ground Your Characters with All Five Senses — Writer Unboxed

Writers are cognizant of how important it is to include all of the senses in the narrative. This article explores how important inclusion is, for the author and the words.~

When I’m writing—these articles, for example—I often compose a kind of first draft in my head, and I usually do it when I’m out on a long walk with the dog. For this article, I knew I wanted to get across the idea that writers can introduce elements from one or all of the five…

Ground Your Characters with All Five Senses — Writer Unboxed

Nyssa’s Nuggets

“Take advantage of the cool temperatures.”

Welcome to the first post of Nyssa’s Nuggets! For those who may not have read the intro post, Nyssa is my American Akita girl who I am honored to share my life with. She is loving, confident, brave, intelligent, and persistent. She teaches me little lessons each day.

Here she is, all 80 pounds of her fuzzy glory.

Being an Akita, Nyssa loves the cooler temperatures of early spring and fall, and especially winter. But the seasons without mud are especially conducive to open doors and lounging under the trees in the yard.

I take this advice of hers and do my best to spend some time in the yard with her. I bring some editing or reading work outside, sit in the lounge chair and enjoy the sun on my face. Usually, Nyssa will settle down in the vicinity, but always mindful of what I’m about.

The fresh air and sun is invigorating and I find a clear focus when I am outdoors. Changing the scenery is a great tactic to finish up a task, or complete editing an article. Then I put the work away and she is right there to amble around the yard, or chase Dash while he plays fetch.

Not all interruptions have to be negative, especially furry ones that remind us to take a desk break and get some air. Fall (here in New England) is the perfect time for working outside, cause you know what comes next… Snow (eeek!)

Have a great week! Woof woof roooooo! * 🐕‍🦺


If you’d like more information about Quill & Orb Press editing, head over to my website, https://www.redleafwords.com/QuillandOrbPress.

You can also sign up for the Quill & Orb Press newsletter for updates, new services, and other bits from this editor’s mind. Let’s keep in touch!

*This is an Akita howl 😉

©2020 Quill & Orb Press. All Rights Reserved.

Reblog — Basing Your High-Fantasy Towns and Cities in the Real World — Nicholas C. Rossis

If you write fantasy, you most likely have asked yourself a question along the lines of “What kind of world do I have and how can I keep track of it?” I can say I went with a completely fictitious world that my character passes through a portal to reach, but it starts in the real world here. This informational post has a few tips to keep in mind when you start to worldbuild.~

I wisely started the map and made the story fit. The above words, spoken by none other than J.R.R Tolkien, have been taken as sage advice by many an accomplished – or budding – fantasy writer who felt inspired to create their own world. While Tolkien, like many others, has been lauded for his incredible…

Basing Your High-Fantasy Towns and Cities in the Real World — Nicholas C. Rossis

The Great Collection of the Elemental Families of Huphaea, anid 1830 #15

Hello Everyone! Welcome to October. Falling leaves, pumpkins and cornstalks, long sleeves, and Halloween candy are now everyday sights. Here is a photo of my nephew’s roadside stand here at our farm:

He grew the pumpkins himself, from field prep to harvest, with his own equipment—he’s thirteen. He’s done pretty well so far, weekends clean him out and he has to restock. Proud aunt here!

This episode will be audio only. I haven’t done audio since the very beginning, so it was time to brush off the mic and put it to use. This segment is also dialogue-heavy and I thought it may work better in audio form. I hope you enjoy it, I had fun reading it for you. Be well!

We left Elahna on the road back to Rosewood Manor from a day in Cragbend. She had just seen some color-changing frogs in the clutches of children under the bridge. This episode includes more animals, but before I give anymore away, hit the PLAY button below and give it a listen. Then let me know what you think!~


Click the orange arrow to play episode 15…


What did you think? How would you have reacted, and would you want to ride a Sentient horse? Arlen was magnificent. Honestly, every Sentient I met was, but the horses were extraordinary. How do you think Revel will do on his first real excursion? Let me know how the audio was, and if it worked well, especially with all of the dialogue. I’d love to hear from you!

Quill & Orb Press, (the fiction part of my word services business), is open to do developmental edits and copyediting for YOU! Fantasy, paranormal, YA, historical fiction, steampunk, and other genres welcome.

Are you an indie author? I’d love to work with you!

Line editing is coming! I am finishing courses as we speak and will be offering it later this fall. If you’d like more information about line editing, or the differences/distinctions between the three types of editing, head over to the website here:

Or you can contact me directly

Remember to subscribe to Collata ⚡, the Collection of Huphaea newsletter to get more from the land of Sentients and magic! This monthly newsletter has extras from Elahna’s story, stuff not seen in the episodes. You know you want to, click the button and become a Nightingale today!

Introducing a New Segment — Nyssa’s Nuggets

The name of this blog includes three of the most important things in my life — the sun makes plants 🌾grow and my green thumb thrive, books 📚 are often in my hand, and my dogs 🐕‍🦺🐕 keep me on my toes and moving.

But the furry ones also remind me of how to be present in every day. They constantly mirror back my emotions and actions. They help me see where I can improve.

I have two dogs, (at the moment). Nyssa, an American Akita is almost 5 and Dash, an AussieX is almost 4. Both of them give me so much joy and food for thought daily, most of which can be related to writing or editing in some constructive way.

Nyssa and Dash

This new segment will feature Nyssa’s Nuggets of wisdom, as she is a character in the fantasy novel that is set in the world that the Collection of Huphaea tells of. I plan to have it run weekly, probably on Fridays.

In Nyssa’s Nuggets, I will showcase at least one anecdote she has taught or reminded me of recently, and how it relates to my writing or editing activities. It will be a little snapshot of life with a regal, yet expressive Akita and how she reminds me to be the best human, editor, and writer each day.

Please do comment at the end of a post when a particular anecdote gives you pause. Nyssa, nosy as she is, will be pleased that she has woofed in your ear, too.~


If you want to keep up with what is going on at Quill & Orb Press, please sign up for the newsletter below. I will share updates on editing projects, new services, courses I take, and recommendations of fellow members in the writing community.

Oh, and probably some extra Nyssa’s Nuggets, too. 😉 Newsletters are maybe once a month, no full inboxes from me.

If you want to see what the Collection of Huphaea is all about, look up those posts here on the blog.

Join the adventure and become a Nightingale, one of Eleanorah Starr’s troup, by signing up for Collata ⚡, the Collection of Huphaea newsletter! You will get exclusive snippets from the story not available in the posts. Get to know the land of Huphaea, in the world of Ereth!

©2020 Quill & Orb Press. All Rights Reserved.

Reblog — Why Writers Should Consider NaNoWriMo in 2020 — WRITERS HELPING WRITERS®

It is almost NaNo time again, hard to believe, but then again, no. I remember considering it last year and opting out because my mind was a chaotic mess. I had far less of an idea of the book I am writing than I do now. Will I this year? I am thinking hard about it again, but my reaction to the pressure of winning is now my concern. Perhaps I will modify the goal to make it attainable, yet still a challenge. This post outlines some great reasons why I, and you, may just want to hop on the NaNo bandwagon. Stay tuned for my decision 😉.~

Let’s not mince words: 2020 has been a real crap sandwich. COVID has caused all sorts of struggles, anxiety, and challenges. Some of you have had work disrupted. Others wanted to travel to see loved ones and couldn’t. All of us are feeling isolated or overburdened, and everyone’s schedule has gone off the rails. BUT.…

Why Writers Should Consider NaNoWriMo in 2020 — WRITERS HELPING WRITERS®

Reblog — Parts Of A House With Names You Probably Didn’t Know — Nicholas C. Rossis

What fun! I read a lot of historical fiction and the house or dwelling descriptions are some of my most favorite parts. Have a look at all of these new or forgotten house terms to play with! Eeek! Imagination, wait for me!~

One of the hardest things for me is writing detailed descriptions of houses. Part of it is that I’m impatient by nature and I tend to gloss over long descriptions when reading. But part of it is also that it can be hard to write a nice description of a house without knowledge of the…

Parts Of A House With Names You Probably Didn’t Know — Nicholas C. Rossis

The Great Collection of the Elemental Families of Huphaea, anid 1830 #14

Hello Everyone! Aime here, I wanted to start this post by saying Thank You to all of you for following my story. It means so much to have your support for this bit of creativity that flows out of my overactive brain. It is what keeps any writer going and putting out content on any given day. You are the best! Now, here’s Eleanorah…


Hey Everyone, nice to see you back! I hope autumn (or spring, as it may be) is treating you well. Here, it is painfully dry, we are in a moderate-to-severe drought and plants of all types are suffering. Thankfully, it is nearing leaf-drop anyway, so the colors New England is famous for are progressing, a bit more quickly than normal. Things change color overnight, and wow, the poison ivy is spectacular! Here are a few pics I took while walking Dash a mile down the hill from me:

I do love fall, though I fight to hold on to the summer sun, and this weekend should be perfect for that. I may have to start doing rain dances, a couple rainy days would be welcome. Landscaping is slowing down, so that means more time for writing and maybe a couple other ideas as well…. Anyway, let’s get back to Cragbend and Elahna, it’s much more fun there.~

We left Elahna after she had just purchased that sweet new rucksack. I miss that bag, I wish it had crossed back with me, but of course it couldn’t. What’s next in her day? Ready to find out? OK, let’s go!


Back out on the main road, I turned right, back toward the clock tower. A sign with a pink frosted cupcake caught my eye, and I remembered Aymur’s comment on peach tarts. I pushed open the bright blue door and entered the North Pole of sweet shops. It smelled of spun sugar, birthday cake, and chocolate. My mouth began to water like Pavlov’s dogs.

Sweetnic’s sign

“Elements be, aye fla, what sweetnics can I tempt you with?”

A thin man with wavy hair that resembled fudge in a bowl hailed me as I entered. His apron was stained with smears of icing and jelly in every color, and powdered sugar coated the backs of his fine-boned hands. I wondered how he could possibly be so slim working in a place like this all day, but then I noticed the huge sacks of flour and sugar, and barrels of fruit that lined the walls and tables of the bakery. If he mixed them all, he wouldn’t have time to eat! But wouldn’t there be magic at work here too?

“Elements be, Aymur Arborea told me I had to have a peach tart from Sweetnic’s before I left. Am I in the right place?” I smiled as I looked before me at the cooling pastries and cookies.

In the back of the shop, a young man stood waving his hands over a long table where a lengths of rainbow colored candy writhed and twirled in response. It was like watching bolts of cloth being drawn and cut into ribbons. When he had the lengths at a certain size, he spun his wrist around and the candy twirled into unicorn horns, or knots, or balloon-animal shapes. Then he stuck a cinnamon stick or a waxed cord into them. A small girl next to him plucked them out of the air and put them on racks to cool.

Photo by form PxHere

The man before me chuckled a little, drawing my attention back. “Why yes, you are! Aymur stops in for a peach tart every time he’s in town. Is that all you’d like?”

The tiny cakes and chocolate truffles winked at me, I swear, and the cookies flashed their dark, molten chips at me. But I resisted and replied, “Yes, thank you, but I will take two, if I may? Are you Rennay?”

“As you like, fla, yes, I be Rennay, crafter of all that is sweet. Who might you be?” He answered in a pleasant tone as he wrapped two flaky, pink sugar-coated tarts and handed me a thin, foil bag. The foil was warm as a baking sheet, but the warmth did not linger on my fingers after they left the bag.

“I’m Elahna. I’m a guest of Lady Daphne for a day or two. How long will this stay warm?”

“How long do you need it to? Certainly through tomorrow morning, if you can make them last that long. You can replenish at my kinsman’s shop in Sawyerset, though, so no need to draw out the delight.” Rennay winked at me, he knew just who I was.

“Thank you, ok, I will do that. Do you make all of this yourself?”

The selection of baked goods and poured candies was incredible. Most pieces looked to be individually crafted, but the amount of time that would take would be impossible. Rennay must have magic he uses.

*Photos by form PxHere

“Yes, with my sontres and dautris, dua of whom are there,” he waved at the back of the shop, “and the tertiar is out on errands. I have other helpers when they are occupied at their matris’s or in Sawyerset.”

“So you have magic, too.” My statement wasn’t really supposed to be heard, but I guess I said it aloud.

“Oh yes, but not a lot, we aren’t Elementals, but for simple things like mixing and shaping, common talents that help us in our lives and trade. Like Toscan is doing there, spinning candy.”

“I see. Everything is so beautiful. I would hesitate to eat it because it looks like art or toys.” I saw a slight frown quirk his lips, and I hastily continued, “But I’m sure I would forget about that once I tasted it.” I smiled again, hoping to bury the slight I must have given. Ugh.

Now, I can see where that comment might have caused him to frown, but it was true! The cakes looked like stuffed bunnies and chicks, fluffy and bright yellow and white, with ribbons around their necks and whiskered noses. The candies resembled packages, animals, other food items, and celestial bodies. If I didn’t know they were confections, I would have thought they belonged on a shelf, or in a child’s toy box.

I paid for the tarts and agreed to convey tidings to Aymur.

Back at the clock tower, I noted the time as one-thirty to me, so half terdecca? Still loads of time, and I really wanted a quiet spot to process all I had learned that morning. The sound of the water wheel caught my attention again, so I followed the lure.

The road past The Cleft Barrel was subdued compared to the bustle of the Sagebridge road. On the right, I passed a tidy cottage framed by fenced gardens that teemed with color and vegetation. The sky blue sign had a rainbow in an upper corner and a mortar and pestle front and center.

The Orderly’s sign

Ah, probably the Orderly. I slowed and recognized many of the plants as healing herbs. Bright purple scapes of lavender, tight carpets of mother-of-thyme, and bold leaves of castor bean stood out as I wandered past, along with scents of mint, chamomile, and anise hyssop. In places, the unruly plants covered the pebbled paths, but in others, the herbs were cut neatly revealing rich brown mulch.

*Photos by form PxHere, except thyme image credit Alan Levine on PxHere.

A pedestal that looked like a small altar stood in the center of one of the blocks; I had noticed similar pieces in front of other buildings too. It could easily have held a sun dial or other garden ornament, but something about the individuality of each one I had seen suggested religion, or honor. I stopped then and looked around—there was no church-type building in the center of town, where I would expect one to be. Nature worshippers, perhaps?

Past the Orderly’s property, (which I noted had every square inch planted with herbs or edibles of some sort), there was a thin trail that wound off into the grass. The building before me was a mill of some sort, with the luring water wheel splashing off seconds in the sparkly river.

I followed the trail which ended on the riverbank. Setting my pack down under a small tree, I collapsed in the grass on my back.

*Photo by form PxHere

I laid there for a few moments listening to unfamiliar birdsongs and inhaling the earthy scents to the backdrop of the waterwheel’s beat. Everywhere I went there was a vibrancy, a vitality and a positivity that permeated the air, even.

I could only describe it as the feeling you have on the first day of vacation—so full of energy, promise, activity, confidence— you know that feeling, right?

When my senses could hold no more sensations, I sat up and retrieved the foil pack. It was still oven-warm, the tarts soft and light in my hand. Aymur was right, it was an amazing peach tart. I wanted to scarf both of them down in a sticky, sweet minute, but I only ate half of one and re-stowed them.

My new rucksack should have been quite full with all I had stuffed inside, yet plenty of room remained, and it wasn’t heavy to carry at all. Bespelled again? Most likely, but I wasn’t complaining. This magic here certainly had its advantages. Ungifted though I was, I would employ it in the forms I could!

After a brief nap, I stretched and faced upstream, toward the mill. No sound of giant stones grinding together reached me, only that of splishing water, so perhaps it was a wool or textile mill.

*Photo by form PxHere

Beyond that, the river widened way out into a pond, or a bay, if such could be on a river. I heard shouts every once in a while, and could see patches of color moving around, which I assumed to be people. They appeared to be moving around in familiar patterns, and then I saw a large boat—a barge?—creep into the middle of the bay. It was a large, flat vessel poled on either side by a man, away from me and the mill. Then a team of horses, big draft horses, emerged from the shade of a copse of trees on either bank. There must be another town upstream that they were returning to. Rennay had mentioned somewhere called Sawyerset on the road to Irillo, perhaps I would find out tomorrow.

I watched the activity upstream for a while and decided it must be a wood mill, which only made sense with Cragbend being the Arborea Seat, and the predominance of wooden construction everywhere. Occasionally I caught a slight scent of wood shavings, or burning wood, so that must be it. But where there didn’t appear to be electricity here, it would all be hand-sawn work, or magic. Like the woodworker with the carriages. Yes, magic.

I indulged in a quiet couple of hours by the river before heading back to Rosewood Manor.

As I crossed the bridge over the river, I saw three young children under the bridge, catching frogs and squeezing them to make them turn colors.

It was actually quite entertaining. I stopped on the bridge to watch them. The frogs were great fat things, and when squeezed, if they didn’t belch or emit fecal material to the boys’ delight, they turned any random shade of color. And if they were squeezed again, the color would change.

I’ll leave it here for now, the day isn’t over, but my trip to town is. See you next episode!~


A backpack that never fills up? What student couldn’t use that? I do wish it could have crossed back with me. The heated foil was super handy too, you could have warm bread whenever you wanted. Would you have done anything different in a new town? Comment below and let me know.

In some other news, Quill & Orb Press, (the fiction part of my word services business), is ready to do developmental edits and copyediting for YOU! Fantasy, paranormal, YA, historical fiction, and other genres welcome.

Are you an Indie author? I’d love to work with you!

Click here for a list of genres I review, and other services I offer:

Or click here to contact me directly:

Want more info about life in Huphaea? Sign up for Collata⚡, The Collection of Huphaea newsletter! Nightingales get some more inside bits about my time in Huphaea, and other news on my writing and related interests. Once a month, so no cluttered inboxes, just a snippet here and there. Join the Nightingales, Eleanorah’s troupe!

©2020 Eleanorah Starr and Quill & Orb Press. All Rights Reserved.