A Sprig of Rosemary

So, originally this blogpost was going to be about how I didn’t have any inspiration for my second fantasy novel. How the first one seemed to flow much easier than this one and how the plotpoints I created made sense. How I was so stuck on this second book that I was going to do something else for a while (even though I used that excuse before concerning this WIP). How I was just so freaking disappointed in myself for not figuring things out in my fantasy world, for letting my writing self down, for not being creative enough.

That was what my blogpost was going to be about.

And then something amazing happened. I opened up my documents, turned on some Lord of the Rings music, and just stared at the words for a little while. Stared at the my confused words like: “Plot?” and “What is her motivation??” and “Character arc???” All questions and no answers, the tiny red ellipses beaming like shameful reminders of my lack of my creativity. I just…stared. And wondered. And listened to the Lord of the Rings fantasy music swell and ebb. I thought about my main character and the world I had created and the magic I wanted to explore and the darker side of the realm. I thought about my first fantasy book still at the beta readers and wondered if they’d like it or if I’d have to scrap something I loved. I wondered about the ties from that book and into this one, how corrupted versions of the crafting abilities could become and how I wanted to showcase another version of that in this book. I just took some time, sitting in front of my WIP fantasy brainstorming documents and listening to LOTRs, really contemplating my manuscript and what I wanted this story to be about.

And then, seemingly out of nowhere, an idea came into my mind. It’s not a fully fleshed out idea. It’s not the entire plot of my manuscript. It’s not “everything.”

It’s actually kind of a small idea, now that I think about it…a sprig of a larger branch of a larger plant. A sprig of rosemary, perhaps, that I can offer to my creative muse.

But it’s something. Something to build off of. Something to be excited about. And something that ties in my MCs motivations, the corrupted version of magic I wanted to explore, and an interesting plotpoint to weave throughout the story.

It’s something. And my advice to anyone else struggling to write, doubting their creative muse, doubting their writing?

Don’t force it. Whenever I would sit down to write, I’d think, Okay, Doherty, time to do this. Time to be creative. … … Go. Go, already. Creativity?? When nothing came, it would eventually spiral into, Okay…okay…okay…nothing. Bah! 

Don’t feel bad. So, because I wanted my creativity to spark so badly, I was disappointed when I didn’t think of anything. It doesn’t help to think that, but every writer doubts their craft.

Keep going. Allow yourself some time to think. Sit with your budding creation and wonder what could happen, what kinds of things you’d like to write about, whatever’s cool or interesting or intriguing. Think about your world and your characters. Sit with it for a while and see what happens.

(And, put on some music, too! But that step is optional.)

Here’s hoping you have a creative weekend!
Warm regards,
Kellie

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I’ve Moved Back to Alaska!

Hello everyone!

Last month was crazy busy with ~life stuff~ and because of that, I didn’t get the chance to write blogposts. (I should really write these things in advance and schedule them. *shakes fists at Past Self*)

Why was it so crazy, you ask? Well, the lease on my Portland apartment was going to run out in mid-October and I had decided earlier in the year that I’d move back to Alaska when that happened. I just didn’t realize how much stuff actually went into the “moving back to Alaska” part. It was intense! It felt like the whole month of September I was trying to figure out moving stuff, what to do and how to do it and how long it would take. Even though we had a lovely moving company, it still seemed like Mom and I had to pack up a lot of things. And then there were little details I had to do: removing the internet from my apartment, canceling my safety deposit box at the bank, figuring out who was going to take all of the liquid foodstuff that couldn’t actually be shipped, how the hell I was going to fly with two cats, etc. Suffice it to say, I had a ToDo list of things to get done and amazingly we were able to finish it all.

The airplane ride was a bit of a crazy piece of the puzzle just because of all the luggage (five pieces), our two carryons, and then the two cats/carriers. Mom had to drop me off at the airport in order to return the car and the luggage bit was pretty easy because I just had to wait in line, but the security checkpoint was a doozy. We had to take the cats out of their carriers to walk through the metal detectors, and they were UNHAPPY with that. Very unhappy. Like, scared, meowing, shaking, nervous unhappy. It was probably because of the people, and the loud machines, and the general stress that airports usually provide. (Keep in mind, Mom and I hadn’t slept the night before and it was 5am.) The flight was okay; Raven mostly slept, Cinder meowed a bit, and neither of them wanted water. *sighs* Traveling with pets is just…different than traveling alone.

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BUT we managed to meet up with Dad and Jess, pack all the stuff into the car, and then got back to Mom and Dad’s house at a reasonable hour. Jack (our dog) and my cats get along fine, but Spock and Kirk (Jess’ cats) and my cats are having some trouble adjusting so that’ll take a bit more time.

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Overall, though, the move was successful, and I’m back in Alaska! Now, time to adjust back to the darkness and cold, BUT SOON THERE WILL BE SNOW!

Hope you had a great September and happy October!
Warm regards,
Kellie

 

Five More Writing Tips

Hello my fellow writing nerds!

Sooo, I recently realized that I haven’t posted on here in over a month. It’s been a trying month for me, but that’s no excuse! Maybe I should try to write a bunch of posts and then schedule them? Annnnnnyway, what better way to start this little blog back up again than some more Writing Tips I enjoy:

1.) This writing tip comes from Jack London and I may or may not have used it here before but it’s one of my favorites: “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” (Spoiler: It’s true for life, too.)

2.) Set your work aside for a little bit before diving back into it again for another read through. Coming back to the work with a fresh eyes helps to catch the little things you may have missed if you went straight into editing mode. It might also help you get some new ideas for the work, too!

3.) Your characters don’t have to be likable (like villains), but they do have to be believable and compelling. Add in some faults to the character. Some good things, too, maybe. Definitely some motivation for why they’re doing this terrible thing.

4). The first draft, or second draft, or third draft doesn’t have to be perfect. Keep writing, put that story on paper, and then flesh it out and mold it into something beautiful later on.

5.) Sometimes characters have to walk through fire and come out better for it on the other side. (I’m paraphrasing a favorite quote of mine from Critical Role here, said by none other than Patrick Rothfuss.) But seriously, it’s true. Make your characters go through hard things and see what happens to them while they do and see how they fair on the other side. Did they crack under pressure? Did they embrace the flames? Did they get stronger or weaker once it was over? Did they learn anything? The truth is, we never really learn things unless we make mistakes and overcome them. Get better because of them. The characters have to go through a similar transformation. (Granted, the characters could crack, too, could feel weaker, could feel sad instead of empowered and that’s good, too, because some folks do crack under pressure or don’t learn the thing after one or two mistakes.) Put them through the fire and see what comes out the other side.

Well, that’s all for now. I hope everyone is having a lovely Labor Day weekend!
Warm regards,
Kellie

Writing Update: OH MY GOD, ALL THE THINGS

Hello fellow nerds and writers,

Here’s a writing update (and basically a ToDo List for myself):

Things I Didn’t Get:
– I submitted “Beware The Temptress Comes” to PodCastle and it got to the final round of reviews but ultimately didn’t get on the podcast.

Things I’ve Submitted To:
Nerdfighter Poetry Book – I submitted “The Criminality of Love” to these guys in April, and they closed their submissions in June! It would be so cool to get in their book, as I’ve been a fan of Hank and John for years. Plus, I love this poem and think it would fit perfectly with their vibe.
Shimmer – Because I didn’t get into PodCastle (yet!!), I submitted “Beware the Temptress Comes” to Shimmer on Tuesday of last week. They say it takes two weeks to get back, so I marked it on the calendar. I’ve been trying to find a place for Beware for the longest time, and I hope they like it.
Windfall – I submitted a brand new poem “A Frost-Tipped Memory” to Windfall on Friday of last week. I’m pretty proud of this new poem. It’s about Eagle River, Alaska, during the winter so calling up how the snow felt did wonders for me right now. (It’s currently 85 degrees in Portland and is supposed to get up to 106 this week!)

Things I Plan To Submit To:
PseudoPod – They’re the horror-themed sub-podcast from PodCastle and they open up for flash fiction and short stories in mid-August, so I’m going to submit “The Curse.”
Mutifarious Press – They’re looking for queer short stories for their anthology and I’d like to submit to them, one for fantasy and one for science fiction. The deadline is August 31 and I have a few character ideas, but I haven’t penned them quite yet.

My Fantasy Series:
I am SO FAR BEHIND in editing the first novel it’s not even funny. I keep on thinking about things I need to add to the story that what I really need is a solid sit-down with the novel so I can hash out all the things I’d like to do and get on with it. For example, I’d like to get to know my characters better, so I can portray them more realistically. I just finished reading the Shades of Magic trilogy by V. E. Schwab, and she does SO WELL at portraying her characters that it makes me want to do better with mine. SO. MANY. THINGS! Anyway, I love the magic and creatures and storyline, so it’s going well overall.

So many things to do!! I’ve been reading so many wonderful stories that it makes me want to write even better. That’s the good thing about writing (and life in general), you can always do things better than the last time. You can always, always, always get better.

Fellow Writers: How have your writings been going?
Fellow Nerds: Now that I’m done with the Shades of Magic trilogy, what should I read next?

Until next time!
Warm regards,
Kellie

WritingLife: The Little Detail Of Food

Food. It’s something we need to survive. It can be a rustic fair or a fancy creation, but regardless we all need to eat. Food does more than that, though, it can bring a family around a dinner table or open the eyes of an outsider. It can hint at how wealthy an establishment is. It can also showcase what’s in season in that area and what’s valued in that culture. Food can do so much. So why does it sometimes get passed over in our writings? Why do these little details so often get overlooked?

For example, I’m a freelance editor and as such I have the lovely opportunity to work with some amazing writers. One such writer kept mentioning food but wasn’t specific to what the food actually was. I pointed it out, and they replied saying I was “too obsessed” with food. But really, those little details were actually important. The story was set in Japan and food is a huge part of their culture (of any culture, I’d wager) and vastly different than our own. (For example: In Japan it’s common to have cooked rice with a cracked egg overtop for breakfast.) Instead of saying “XX had breakfast” and move on, adding in that small detail would ground the reader in this setting and in this culture. It was an interesting back-and-forth, and eventually the writer understood where I was coming from and added those details in. I believe the setting is stronger because of that.

And I’m here to implore all writers to include this sensory activity in their stories. After all, food is important, regardless of race. (Unless…you have a race that doesn’t eat, but that opens up a whole new set of experiences!) Now, that’s not to say every page has to have some kind of food on it. Don’t overboard the reader with an onslaught of meals, as that would probably get boring. But don’t forget them either.

Like I said before, food can help build the setting and tone of your story. A meal in a post-apocalyptic world would be vastly different than a meal set on a spaceship or a meal in historic Japan. A sit-down meal surrounded by family sets a different tone than a quick meal on the run or a hearty meal in a pub.

Food can help solidify the reader in a character’s POV. Is the soup too spicy? Is the bread too soft or salty or filled with nuts they don’t like? Does the juice from that purply-green fruit drip down their chin? Burst over their tongue? Scorch their throat going down?

Food can also help shape your characters. Do they miss certain foods from back home? Do they like certain spices or sweets? Do they even know what meats or vegetables are in the soup they’re currently enjoying?

These things may seem tiny among the “bigger details” like the plotline and the character arcs and the overall setting, but these little descriptions ground the readers in your world and your character. These little descriptions make the place seem real.

What do you think? Add a comment below!

Hope you have a lovely 4th of July weekend!
Until next time!
Kellie

A Writer’s How-To: Memorable Settings

I find the easiest way to create a memorable setting is to make it unique. If your story is set in the mountains, give the mountains a cool name with some weird creatures living in it. If the story is set in space, make the spaceship feel like home and add some quirks to it. (After all, we all have that ONE FREAKING FLOORBOARD that creeks like some horror story bad guy is coming to kill you in the middle of the night.) If your story is a romance, make the setting cozy by adding in something that means the world to the main character or something that brings up some unfinished memories.

If you give the setting something specific, something unique to itself, some defining character, readers will remember it better. (It’s the same with making memorable characters!)

Three of my favorite settings are, in no particular order: Hogwarts, because of the ghosts and the moving staircase and trick doors; Serenity, because even though it fell apart ALL THE TIME it became a home and sanctuary to the crew; the Arenas in the first and second Hunger Games books, because it seriously messed with the tributes in unique and challenging ways.

Why do I like them most? They all offered something unexpected and added dimensions to the story, as well as pushed the story along. Doing so with your settings will help your readers remember them!

Readers: what are your favorite settings and why?
Writers: what are some ways you make your settings believable?

Happy Friday, and until next time!
Warm regards,
Kellie

If you want to write a book, here are five actual tips. (Don’t quit!)

Okay, my fellow writers, we all know that Beast article sucked. Maybe it was trying to be a tough-love kind of motivation. (Yes, it takes dedication.) Maybe it was trying to relate a truth about writing. (Yes, it can be hard.) Maybe the author was just having a terrible time as a writer and wanted to ostracize the community he desperately wanted to become a part of. (Side-eyes the article again.)

Regardless, the article was poorly written, the author comes across as a villain, AND the “tip” he gives (write everyday) while good for some people, simply can’t work for others. The author’s idea of “if you want to write a book, write everyday or quit” is a terrible mindset to have. To that end, here are five tips if you want to write a book:

1.) Read. Read so many books, inside your genre and out, whenever you can spare the time. Why? It’s important to see what’s been done in the literary world, it’s a way to build your repertoire of words (sounds weird, but seriously, reading helps you build your vocabulary), and it’s also a great space to gain inspiration.

2.) Read your work out loud. Yes, this also seems weird and maybe don’t do this in a coffee shop or other public place, but reading the scenes out loud will allow you to figure out the sticky spots, the weird transitions, the too-long sentences. It can help with pacing, too.

3.) Consider having a Post-it note on your computer (or somewhere you can dig it up easily) with an inspiring quote from your favorite author or from your favorite book. It’s something you can look at when times are rough, or when that one scene just isn’t working, or when you can’t think of how to make this one MC amazing. For me, I have this quote from Patrick Rothfuss when he guest starred on Critical Role as Ker saved on my desktop: “There are many things that move through fire and find themselves much better for it afterward.” 

4.) Try not to edit your first draft while you’re writing. It’s hard, I know. I also want to go back and fix things, but if you do that, you’ll literally never be done with the first draft. Give yourself permission to have that first draft be shit. Write whatever the hell you want. There’s always the second and third drafts to pull it into the shape you want it to be in.

5.) And finally, my last tip is a tip of the hat toward the Beast article. If you want to write a book, write. Simply write. You can write everyday. You can write once every week. You can write for a marathon weekend or a marathon month. But if you want to write a book, all you have to do is write. Write when it’s best for you.

BONUS TIP: And please, for the love of all the writing gods and goddesses and muses in this world and beyond, please don’t give up. Your story is worth telling.

I hope you have a lovely weekend.
Warm regards,
Kellie

Two Best Books With Two Best Wines

Happy National Wine Day!

That’s right. It’s National Wine Day, and how should we all celebrate this lovely holiday? By reading books, of course! Here’s two of my favorite wine/book pairings you should consider:

51MUF7bj-lL._SY346_For The Red Wine Lover
PAIR
Cabernet Sauvignon: full-bodied, gripping, blackcurrant notes, good with red meats
WITH
The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss: high fantasy, bold characters, twisting plot
WHY
With the bold taste of the wine and some nice red meat, you’ll really feel like you’re adventuring in a fantasy world with Kvothe and the others. While Kvothe’s stealing some poor chap’s coin, you’ll be stealing a lovely evening.

 

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For The White Wine Lover

PAIR
Riesling: light, fresh, apple notes, good with chicken and fish
WITH
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, Becky Chambers: fun scifi, character-driven plot, great worldbuilding
WHY
With the refreshing taste of the wine and perhaps some fish, you’ll be simply swept away by the wacky characters and fun storyline of the Wayfarer crew. While they’re off having adventures in the black, you’ll be adventuring right there with them.
Eh? EH? It’s a brilliant idea. So after work, stop by the wine shop and grab a bottle, stop by the bookshop and grab a book, and then head home to relax! I hope you enjoy the night off with a good book and a good glass of wine.

Until next time!
Warm regards,
Kellie

Book Giveaway Announcement!

Hello fellow nerds!

Would you like to win a free book? (Of course, you would. I mean, really, who wouldn’t want to win a free book? Crazy people, that’s who. Are you crazy? I think not.) Well, my non-crazy fellow nerds, you’re in luck!

I’m hosting a six-book giveaway of Losing Hold over on my author Facebook page! I’m going to sign them, too, so you get to see my pretty scrawl. How do you enter? Simply Like and Comment on this pinned post about who your favorite scifi protagonist is! I did something similar with Finding Hekate and folks really loved it, so I’m hoping my readers like this opportunity, too!

Here are the official specs.

Rules/Eligibility Requirements:
– To Enter: Like and Comment about who your favorite scifi protagonist is
– Giveaway starts on May 16th and ends on May 30th, midnight PST
– US participants only, no international fans (sorry!)
– Adults only (18+)
– SIX winners will be randomly drawn from the entries and announced on May 31st
– No purchase necessary, but feel free to share if you’d like!

About The Book You Could Win:

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In this sequel to Finding Hekate and after escaping Donavin’s grasp, Mia Foley and her crew crash on a prison planet and need to deal with its inhabitants, beast and criminals alike. Mia hears Donavin in her mind once again and knows the transformation into one of his drones isn’t far off. Trapped in her own body, lashing against Donavin each chance she gets, and fearful that she’ll lose it all, Mia has to rely on her crew—on Cassidy—to save her. But she’s not the only one transforming in her little group, and things never go as smoothly as they could out in the black.

So go like and comment today! It’s super easy, and you could win a free book!

I hope you have a lovely Saturday.
Until next time,
Kellie

Inspiration: Where Do Stories Come From?

Stories. Where do they come from? What is that one spark that makes you traverse the long, windy road that is a completed story, whether it’s a poem, flash fiction, short fiction, or series of novels? That idea has to come from somewhere, right? It’s a question that authors get all the time during interviews and to be completely honest, that one “aha” moment can come from anything, anywhere, anytime.

Sometimes it’s a location that jogs the creativity. Or that couple walking down the street hand-in-hand. Sometimes it’s as simple as a sense-memory from your childhood or a dream or another book. Sometimes you have a really great one-liner that you just can’t stop thinking about. Sometimes—like in the case for Suzanne Collins—it came come from simply flipping through TV channels. Sometimes—like in the case for J.K. Rowling—a fully fleshed character walks into your mind like they’ve been there for years.

So, really, that spark of inspiration can come from anything, anywhere, anytime, and that’s the excitement of being a writer. You never know when an idea will smack you across the face and demand you pay attention. It can be the littlest of things that makes your creativity churn.

Case in point, here’s where the spark for the entire Cicatrix Duology came from. I had a short story due for my undergraduate writing club and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what to write about. Completely stumped. Then, these three simple lines popped into my head:

“We have come to collect you, Mia.” Her left hand twitched. “We have come.”

That’s it. Not the scifi aspect. Not the plotline. Not even Mia herself. Just those three little lines. But those were enough to spiral my creativity into overdrive and start asking questions. Who wanted her? What’s with her left hand? How long had she been running? Why was she running? After that, the scifi aspect clicked into place, then the scar, then the character, then…well…everything else.

So here’s a little tip: Pay Attention. Write those things down. Even if you can’t get to the idea right now, put it in a ToWrite folder and save it for later. You never know when you’ll want to come back to it.

If you’d like to read the Cicatrix Duology, you can get Finding Hekate here and the (newly published!!) Losing Hold here.

Until next time!
Warm regards,
Kellie