On Making Cupcakes

I decided it would be a brilliant idea to make cupcakes for an event I’m having on Saturday. Yes, you read that right. THIS SATURDAY. (May 11th I’m having a Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties Book Party at Jitters in Eagle River, AK, and wow, it’s way more stressful than I thought it would be. BUT IT’S GOING TO BE FUN, PEOPLE. LOTS AND LOTS OF FUN.)

Anyway, cupcakes. Originally I thought I’d make from-scratch cupcakes.

THAT WON’T HAPPEN.

There were too many from-scratch recipes to choose from and I couldn’t decide and I figured making one thing simple would be easier for me since I’m kind of stressed about this event. So I decided to make from-cake-batter cupcakes.

I APOLOGIZE FOR MY NOT-FROM-SCRATCH CUPCAKES. (But TBH, I’m not actually sorry because they’re delicious and they’re free so folks will eat them and be happy.)

AND ALSO

THE CUPCAKES WILL BE VERY SIMPLY DECORATED.

I tried to make the cupcakes super pretty by swirling the icing with blue sparkly paste but then the bag split and the icing looked like toothpaste and it used WAY too much or WAY too little so the ratio was all off and I said screw it because I don’t have time for that kind of odd baking stress.

So…

I’m just slathering each cupcake with icing like a normal person and then throwing sprinkles on them and calling it good.

It was an eventful Saturday night baking session. Here are some photos:

Obviously I won’t accidentally dump a bunch of green sparkles on one of them like that poor too-green one in the corner. I’ll make them prettier for the event, probably by combining the colored sugar and sprinkling them on. Some will have blue icing, some will have white.

But my test-run was a success and my family got to eat some delicious chocolate cupcakes with vanilla icing so I call that a win.

Happy Sunday!
Warm regards,
Kellie

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Creating Dylori – the Ultimate Hero Type

Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties has been out for nearly three weeks! (Yayyyy!) I’ve been getting some lovely reviews and doing all kinds of interviews, which has been really fun. I just got some paperback copies in the mail YESTERDAY, so I’d like to host a book celebration of sorts when my parents get back from their vacation.

I’ve noticed a trend in a lot of the reviews, though, that I’d like to chat about today. My readers really like Dylori, one of the women who joins Misti on her quest to get the pendant off her neck.

Aesthetic_Dylori

No, scratch that, my readers freaking LOVE Dylori.

And I get it! She’s a badass. She’s smart, confident, strong; her crafting is amaaaaaaazing and her companion animal is probably over-powered. She’s a great fighter and a rank above Misti in the Moon Knights. On top of all that, Dylori also has a fun history and an interesting arc in the story. She has many layers to her, and she was hella fun to write.

Compared to Misti, Dylori is what I would call the Ultimate Hero Type. In fact, Dylori even saves Misti throughout their adventures more than once. In Misti’s eyes she IS a hero, her hero.

And that’s what it boils down to—Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties is told through Misti’s eyes, her point of view. I wrote Dylori to be a badass and to be the hero type because quite frankly, Misti sees her that way. She sees Dylori as the shining example of how a Moon Knight is supposed to behave and Misti’s striving to reach those same heights. Misti is trying to be the Ultimate Hero Type, too, but for better or for worse, she doesn’t reach those heights by using Dylori’s methods. (Spoiler: It’s for the better. Kind-of.)

But there are some negative aspects of Dylori that Misti conveniently…glosses over. Dylori is reckless. Headstrong. She rushes into battle without thinking, and Misti is never surprised by it. Those traits aren’t necessarily the best for the Ultimate Hero Type, but because we’re in Misti’s mind and she thinks Dylori is a hero, we see those traits through rose-colored glasses. We see Dylori using those unlikeable behaviors admirably.

And thus far, my readers have enjoyed it! So yeah, I completely understand why folks are falling in love with Dylori.

I just hope my attempt to make Dylori awesome doesn’t overshadow how amazing Misti is.

If you want to explore more of Misti and Dylori’s dynamic, you should check out Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties for yourself! Get your copy on Desert Palm Press’s website, Amazon (ebook and paperback), and Smashwords, B&N, Bella Books, and soon in select bookstores in Alaska!SFST-cover-final-web-optimized

Thoughts? What would you do if readers really loved a character other than your main character?

Happy Wednesday!
Warm regards,
Kellie

Critical Role Kickstarter!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/criticalrole/critical-role-the-legend-of-vox-machina-animated-s?ref=nav_search&result=project&term=critical%20role

You know I love Critical Role, the group of nerdy ass voice actors who sit around and play D&D. It’s got great storytelling and super-fun characters, and I’ve been watching their Thursday night sessions since early 2016.

I am a ~super fan~ so when they announced they’re doing a Kickstarter campaign for The Legend of Vox Machina animated show, featuring the Campaign One characters (Vox Machina) in one action-packed all-new single-episode show, I jumped on the chance to support them, backing their campaign over my lunch at work. (OBVIOUSLY.)

Within one hour they had blew past their original goal of $750,000 to reach $1 million  and over the next four days, they’d rocket up to $6.5 million and become the most funded tv show ever. EVER. Today, as of this writing, they’ve made up $6.8 million.

FOR AN ANIMATED SHOW BASED ON A D&D GAME.

Awesome?

Hell yes.

Since they blew past their original goals and reached some impressive stretch goals, they’ve added five more episodes to their original one (making it a total of six so far), and the critters have unlocked some AMAZING things, like two original one shots!

And I am SO HERE FOR THIS KICKSTARTER! I can’t wait to see how far it’ll go.

Happy Sunday!
Warm regards,
Kellie

Shy Girl Says – Promoting Your Work

Book promotion can be hard. It’s tough to push through all the other amazing work out there and get your voice heard. It’s also a necessary aspect of publishing. After all:

“Writing is an art, publishing is a business.” ~Peter Clines, author

BUT IT’S ALSO SUPER HARD AND AWKWARD!

Especially for those who are introverted and kind-of shy like me. (Keep in mind, being an introvert doesn’t naturally mean you’re shy; I’m just blessed with that lovely combo.) It’s hard for me to bring up my book. I’m not that naturally outgoing, you know? Don’t get me wrong, I FREAKING LOVE MY BOOK. I’m super excited about it’s launch, and I can’t wait for readers to dive into my world. This is an idea I had when I was young, I finished it during a time when I desperately needed an escape from real life, and I’m so, so proud of how it’s turned out. It’s my best work yet and it focuses on some important themes.

I’m thrilled that it’s coming out on March 27, 2019.

MARCH 27!

THIS MONTH!

However, all that being said, it’s still hard to promote my work. I get super nervous and forget pretty much what words are when people ask me. (Which is also super common in the writing world, so I know it’s not just me.)

So, I’ve devised some ways of combating those nerves. One way: Memorize my pitch, that way when someone asks, I don’t need to fumble for words. Here’s my pitch:

Sunkissed Feathers and Severed Ties is an adult fantasy centered on this woman named Misti who is a Moon Knight protecting this village. During the fight, she gets a Blood pendant stuck to her neck filled with this strange crafting and she has to deal with the deadly consequences. It has themes like the importance of friendship and the healing powers of animals, as well as darker ones like betrayal and getting over one’s guilt. It comes out on March 27, and you can read a sneak peek on my website kelliedoherty.com.”

I do change it up every now and then, putting in different themes that relate to the book or expanding on what crafting is (spoiler: it’s what I call magic in my world)…but that’s pretty much what I say! I try to make it as conversational as I can.

Another thing I did to combat the nerves?

I got an awesome hairstyle in celebration of my book!

IMG_1075

How does this hairstyle help? For one, it’s cool! I really love how it turned out. For another, it makes me into a walking promotion about my novel. When people comment on my hair, I throw in how it’s in celebration of my book, Sunkissed Feathers, and that usually leads to a conversation about my upcoming launch!

Does it help with the shyness factor? Mmmmm, honestly, no. I’m still shy, BUT with this rockin’ awesome new hairstyle, I’m basically forcing myself to talk about my book in explanation of why I got it.

So it’s a promotion win!

I’m also making new bookmarks to hand out, because OF COURSE I AM.

Fellow creatives of all kinds, what kind of promotional things do you do for your work? Fellow shy folk, what do you do to combat the nerves? Let me know in the comments!

Warm regards,
Kellie

On Terrible Writing Advice

I’ve been a writer for a while now, ever since I was a young teen penning Digimon fanfiction. (Yeah, you read that right. Remember Renamon? She was freaking amazing.) I’ve been in numerous writing classes, conferences, groups, and forums, and I’ve gotten some amazing writing advice over the years.

But I’ve also heard some terrible advice.

Here are my top three favorites:

Don’t use contractions.
Yup, I heard that one in a writing group I tried out in college (and soon discovered it wasn’t the best fit). I don’t remember the “why” behind the advice, but I probably just burned it from my mind because OF COURSE YOU SHOULD USE CONTRACTIONS IN YOUR WORK. Characters speak differently, and if all of your characters spoke without contractions they would sound similar and also very effing formal. It’s okay to use that kind of language for a certain character or maybe even a certain race…but it’s also okay to use contractions. People use them all the time, so your characters should, too.

Don’t use “said.” OR Use more exciting dialogue tags.
On one hand, yeah, I kind of get where this advice was coming from. Using tags can get cumbersome, especially if you’re able to write the character actions following the dialogue.

Example: “I know, okay?” Mary said, angrily. VS “I know, okay?” Mary stormed off and slammed the door behind her.

But on the other, “said” is pretty much invisible to the reader, so if you must use dialogue tags, it’s better to use “said” rather than “growled.”

(Note: I am actually kind of terrible at following my own advice, as my copyediting of Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties showed me. My publisher constantly axed dialogue tags in favor of the actions that I had already written into the scene. We can’t all be perfect, you know?)

Don’t describe the setting too much.
This one always makes me laugh. Again, on one hand, okay, yeah there is the case that being overly descriptive can drag the story down…but on the other, the readers need to know the setting! And the setting doesn’t have to be static, either. (And shouldn’t be.) Good writers use the setting to add another dimension to the story and in order to do that the readers have to “see” that setting, too.

One of my other favorites that tends to get tucked into this one is don’t start with the weather. What if the character is trapped in a snowstorm? You start with the snowstorm, of course! Weather can set the mood faster than even characters can, so use it to your advantage!

So there you go, my top three favorite pieces of terrible writing advice. What are some of yours?

Happy Saturday!
Warm regards,
Kellie

P.S. – If you liked this, check out my website, Facebook Author page, and Twitter accounts! And if you’d like to read about a spaceship captain who’s being hunted by a band of murderers and has to make a choice between herself and her crew, check out Finding Hekate! (You can also find it at B&N, Amazon, and Smashwords.)

A Wild Sunday Night Post Appears: Writing Tips

Evening, fellow writers and creatives and nerds of all kinds!

I’ve collected some writing tips over the last couple of months…wait, last year. (Good grief, it’s so crazy that it’s January 2019.) Anyway, I thought these tips were fun and helpful, so I hope you do, too!

  • Setting is a powerful tool. It can set the mood (think dark and stormy vs. sunny and bright) and look different for each character’s POV (a character might LOVE rain, when another one hates it…they’d view a storm very differently). Play with this idea in your work.
  • Pace yourself. Writing, whether you’re penning a paper or a poem or a novel, isn’t a race. Take your time to really craft your words, to find your voice, to discover your characters or setting or plotline. Don’t worry; you’ve got this!
  • Try something different to foster creativity. Write while standing up. Go for a walk meaning to get lost. Try writing a different time of day. Listen to some music.
  • Pick a goal for each session. This could be as long as an entire paragraph or as short as a single sentence, but picking a goal and sticking with it will help you feel productive and fuel your creativity. Make sure it’s achievable, though!
  • Finally, this piece of advice has been said by many but still rings true: Don’t take any writing advice too seriously. Seriously! If someone’s words of wisdom sparks something in you, great! But don’t feel discouraged if their advice doesn’t particularly resonate. There are so many ways to write. Remember that you can form your own ways, too.

Do you have any writing advice? Leave a comment!

I hope you have a wonderful week!
Warm regards,
Kellie

Orange Extravaganza!

Happy 2019! I hope the first day of the New Year is starting off well. Mine started off with a crash as one of out cats got spooked from the nearby fireworks and accidentally knocked over a full mug of hot buttered rum. We cleaned it, of course, but the rug soaked some up and our dog is having a field day “sneakily” licking it. Ahh, never a dull moment. Anyway, the new year generally means new resolutions and new things!

New Resolution!
Write more. Literally, that’s all. Carving out time to write has actually been a challenge for me lately since I’ve been more focused on my Sunkissed Feathers launch, freelance editing, and my day-job. But I have to make it a priority to write, and I will.

New Things!
It’s January 2019, which means my book comes out soon (we’re shooting for the end of the month) and I want to celebrate this WHOLE MONTH a little differently. Over on my Instagram I’m going to post one orange-themed picture a day for this entire month. At the end of each week, I’ll condense them into one (or two?) graphics and post it on my Twitter and Facebook Author pages Why am I postings orange-themed photos? Well, you all know I love orange…but here’s the real reason:

My main character, Misti, is a Vagari and Vagari crafting (magic) shows up as a deep orange color. To honor that Vagari crafting and Misti AND my new book, I figured posting orange-themed photos would be a cool idea.

I’ve already posted today’s so keep an eye on my Instagram if you want to see more!

What are some of your new year’s resolutions or new things?

I hope you have a fabulous start of the new year!
Warm regards,
Kellie

Character Aesthetics

Character aesthetics are something I discovered while browsing Twitter over the summer. I stumbled on the popular hashtag #ThursdayAesthetics and fell in love with how gorgeous the aesthetics are. It inspired me! I’ve been crafting them ever since.

Basically you pick a character from one of your stories, hunt for photos that revolve around that character, and put them together into a pleasing artistic format. It’s kind of like a mood board! (And you can do it for other themes, too, not just characters – anything from some aspect of the setting like “winter” to a specific plot point like “revenge.”)

For me, creating character aesthetics is a relaxing thing to do on a lazy Sunday afternoon that allows me to think about my characters in a new way. (I obviously did these quite a while ago because my Sundays have been INSANE. Holidays are crazy at my house!)

Here are aesthetics I created, one for each of my trio of characters in Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties. 

Aesthestic_Misti
Aesthetic_Dylori
Aesthetic_Arias

I’m also going to make one for Zora, Misti’s companion animal, because even though she doesn’t show up at the beginning, she’s key to Misti as a person and a Vagari.

So what do you think of them? Have you ever made one?

Happy Friday and enjoy the last few days of 2018!
Warm regards,
Kellie

 

 

Cover Reveal of SUNKISSED FEATHERS & SEVERED TIES

Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties has an official cover!!

BUT FIRST, AN ANNOUNCEMENT



The launch date for Sunkissed Feathers has been pushed back again,
this time to the end of January.



Why? Because life happens. It’s as simple as that, really, life happens and sometimes personal stuff has to take priority over book publishing. We just weren’t ready for today’s launch date and I’d rather have quality work over feeling rushed. The extension allows DPP and me the time to put together an amazing book for all of you!

However, in addition to having more breathing room to get this amazing book out there, January also just happens to be my birthday month (so having my debut fantasy novel published that month is pretty awesome), I have some surprises in store between now and then, and I have a gorgeous cover to show off today instead!

THE COVER REVEAL
Here it is, fellow adventurers, the official cover of Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties. What do you think?

SFST-cover-final-web-optimized

About the Designer: Rachel George—Rachel George Illustration—is an inspired cover designer. Seriously, her work is gorgeous and I am so, so happy to have her for Sunkissed Feathers. She also designed Finding Hekate and Losing Hold, and many other Desert Palm Press covers.

About the Process: This cover design process has been a long one, started way back in June when I originally brainstormed what I wanted the book to look like. There were quite a few conversations as Rachel drafted up mockups from the ideas. (Some random ideas I had included a feather/pendant/dagger combo and Zora as a silhouette with things “inside” her.) Rachel did a great job distilling what would make a great cover over the months that followed and eventually we landed on this one! Pretty cool, yeah?

THE SNEAK PEEK OF CHAPTER ONE
Okay, so because the book launch got pushed back and the holidays are literally around the corner I decided to move this, too. I’ll be posting the sneak peek of Chapter One on January 1st on my website so be sure to check it out on New Year’s Day!

Keep an eye on my Twitter or Facebook page for updates as the launch gets closer!

Hope you have an amazing Saturday!
Warm regards,
Kellie

Holy Effing Crap | A 7.0 Earthquake Update

Well, it finally happened, a big earthquake hit Anchorage, Alaska. We’ve been due for a big earthquake for a while, and while this one might not be “the Big One” it certainly did a bunch of damage in it’s own right.

I was at work when it happened, getting a poppyseed muffin with my coworkers like our usual Friday-morning routine. I chatted about weekend plans and what kind of coffee they were getting and how of course I was getting a poppyseed muffin because I wanted to freeze it later. (Poppyseed muffins are amazing frozen, just FYI. You’re welcome.)

The earthquake hit and my whole day changed. The earthquake felt like a normal one, an everyday little earthquake we get here in Alaska, but then it didn’t stop…and the building groaned…and we held on until it ended. (It’s really unnerving when the ground shakes, you know? Makes you realize how small you really are.) When it was done, coffee flavor syrups littered the floor. (Luckily they were plastic containers.) My officemates went up to the third floor and our suite to figure out what to do next. Was everyone okay? Should we stay? Was the building safe? We all got on their phones to text loved ones and that’s when the images of the destruction outside flew onto our screens, and an idea of what hit came into focus.

It was a 7.0 earthquake that lasted for ~20 seconds and hit ~10 miles from Anchorage. The ground rumbled, the buildings shook, and buildings cracked. Roads literally disintegrated. Electricity shuddered to a stop. Water lines broke. Drop ceilings fell, glass shattered, and what was once on the shelves now littered the floor.

My building, the Frontier building, suffered some damage as well, cracks in the walls on the stairwell and such. We were forced to evacuate just in case, so my sister and I made the long trip home to Eagle River. Keep in mind, there’s one road to the Valley, to Eagle River, and when a disaster happens…well, that road becomes congested really quick. When the disaster breaks one of our bridges…it takes a long time to get home. A really long time. Six hours in fact!

It was a long drive, but we knew our family and our pets were healthy and safe, so that was all that mattered in a time like this.

At home, we faced shattered glass and broken tech, books and knick-knacks strewn on the floor, pickle juice pooling in random places from a cracked jar, and four very scared cats. Plus some cracks in the walls that were deemed as “cosmetic.” *phew* Luckily we had heat and power that first night so that was good, though we’ve had to boil water for a couple of days. (That boil-water order was just lifted a few hours ago!)

Mom and Dad didn’t have heat that first night, but they were okay. Their house was a wreak, though. Bookshelves were broken, books and DVDs and plants and boardgames were just ~everywhere~ and my goodness, the kitchen was a mess. Every room seemed worse off. We couldn’t get some doors open because of the amount of stuff that fell down! Crazy. Cleaning will take forever, but we’ll help M&D. (And we have!)

The aftershocks came in waves, too, so it was really hard to sleep that first night. There has been 1,400 aftershocks thus far. According to the Anchorage Daily News, 593 were recorded at magnitude 2.0 or greater; 17 registered at least 4.0; and five were at least 5.0. (Source) I went from worrying that we’d have another big earthquake to being super annoyed whenever one hit. The cats would scatter each time.

Anyway, three days out and we have heat, power, and water. The condo is pretty much back to normal, much to the cats’ joy, and M&D’s house is looking…better. The State of Alaska is closed tomorrow (Monday) so we have an extra day to help clean! I’m not looking forward to the commute into Anchorage on Tuesday since the Valley folks will be routed through Eagle River until the bridges are fixed and the Glenn Highway will be an ongoing problem…we’ll see how it goes.

Earthquakes happen but the city and state did a good job at responding to it, and while things look kinda shaky right now, it’ll only get better.

Warm regards,
Kellie

P.S. – AND the stores are opening up again, so we were able to get emergency weekend supplies! If you want to see more photos, check out my Facebook or Twitter.

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Really it was comfort foods, but who’d blame us. 🙂