Creative Without A Community

As many of you know, I recently moved back to Eagle River, Alaska. Okay…so “recently” might not be the best term, as it was over six months ago. But with the holidays and my new job at the State and my freelance editing and some recent celebrations (my sister graduated with her master’s degree, y’all, pretty effing amazing!), it seems like time flew by. Like, it’s been over six months already, how the heck did that happen??

(Which reminds me of time when I was a kid and my best friend Mer and I had this brilliant idea that since time seemed to fly by when we were having fun, we decided to “not have any fun”…needless to say, it didn’t work out so well. But I digress.)

So I’ve been back in Alaska for a while and I’ve discovered something a bit…troubling. I don’t go out much. Now, it’s not like I went out much in the past, as I’ve always been kind-of a homebody, but I did do things. I volunteered for some local organizations, went to writing groups, helped organize a literary reading here in Eagle River. I did things. Now, though, I haven’t really made the time.

Why? Well, I have a day-job that spans from 6:30 a.m. when I wake up to about 5 p.m. when I get back home, and then after that I have my freelance editing job which consists of a really amazing nonfiction editing gig with Tiger Oak Media that I have to do each night for about one or two hours and (a bit more sporadically) my equally as amazing fiction editing gig with Desert Palm Press with a time commitment that really depends on the project, haha! So I’ve been lucky enough to secure two interesting jobs that I get to do each week, and I’m quite proud and happy about it.

However, I’m kinda tired when I’m done with my evening freelancing job, so I haven’t really made time to do anything after that aside from eating dinner, watching something funny on the TV, and then going to sleep. The weekend is my time to recharge, so I usually spend it writing, hanging out with family, and playing games, as well as doing chores and getting prepped for the following week.

It’s worked okay for the past six months, but I’ve come to realize that my system isn’t really the best. This system doesn’t leave much time for me to socialize or rebuild my writing/creative community. I have my online community that I’ve been slowly building in my random tiny snippets of spare time, but in-person connections are super important, too. (Says the introverted person who’d rather pet a stray cat than talk to a stranger. *nervous laughter*)

So, stemmed from that realization, I’ve decided that I need to do better. I don’t really have much time to spare during the week, but maybe once a week I can attend a literary event, like a book reading! I also put my name in the hat to volunteer at 49 Writers, so here’s hoping they get back to me. I’ll be helping the Alaska Writer’s Guild with their conference program like usual sometime later this summer, too. I was also thinking about becoming a member of one of those groups, or maybe the Alaska Romance Writers  of America, since that’ll help support the local writing community. I used to volunteer for Cirque pretty regularly, so maybe they still need some help with things? And maybe I’ll go to the Jitters Critters meeting on Monday nights like I used to? I don’t have any writing to show them right now, but I can help critique.

Hmmm…or maybe I should just try one or two of these things right now, because all of that is kind of overwhelming.

Annnnnd I should also chat with my friends more often, but that’s another story entirely, hahaha…ha…ha… *waves feebly at Alaska friends and whispers, Sorry!*

TLDR: I would like to be more active in my creative community and have lots of random thoughts on how to do that.

What kinds of things do you do to stay involved with your creative communities?

Wish me luck!
Warm regards,
Kellie

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Writing Update: Fantasy Series, Book One!

I AM DONE WITH MY FANTASY MANUSCRIPT!

Or…so I thought when I first penned this blogpost A DAY AGO. Yes, you read that right. On Thursday at 2:30pm I was doing a little mini dance at work because I was finished with my fantasy manuscript, I started writing this blogpost on Thursday evening around 5pm, and then LATER ON Thursday night at 11:30 pm I had an idea for it, got out of bed, and typed it into my computer notes.

Such is the life of a writer.

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BUT I am almost done with it. Before moving forward, I’d like to solidify my character/story arcs for the following books. I have a really good grasp on Book Two, with lots of character ideas, a synopsis, and plotpoints I’d like to hit and I’ve even plotted some chapters out already. The other three books? More like vague ideas. So, I’m going to craft a synopsis for each of those three books by mid-April before I submit Book One to publishers.

I wanted to do this anyway for this particular series—since they’re basically standalones in the same world but do have overlapping characters—but I honestly think I had to finish this first book to really grasp how important it is to know where the story is headed and how the characters will get there. (For my own sanity more than anything else, ha!) And that’s not to say the characters and the story won’t surprise me. There were a couple of places in this first book where the story took a turn I wasn’t expecting and I just had to go with the flow and see if it worked. (Spoiler: It did!) But it would be great to have a synopsis of each book for myself…and then also to show the publishers if they ask where I’m headed with the story. Overall, though, I’m pretty excited.

Have a lovely weekend, my fellow nerds!
Warm regards,
Kellie

Read An Ebook Week: FINAL DAY of Sales!

Good morning, fellow readers and writers and creatives of all types,

If you didn’t know, this past week has named Read An Ebook Week by Smashwords, the largest distributor for indie books! (Desert Palm Press, too.) In celebration, their ebooks are 25-50% off and today is the last day for this sale. Because of that, both my books Finding Hekate and Losing Hold are 50% off, too!

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Here’s a little bit about Finding Hekate:

Mia Foley is running away from the attack that changed her life. She’s captain of a new spaceship when the Acedians find her and try blasting her peaceful crew from the black. Staying with them will jeopardize their safety, but she’s grown fond of this crew, particularly Cassidy Gates. Mia’s time is running out.

And here’s a bit about Losing Hold:

Escaping Donavin’s grasp, Mia and her crew crash on a prison planet and must deal with its inhabitants, beast and criminals alike. Mia hears Donavin in her mind 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 and Cassidy to save her.

Intrigued? Good! Get them both (as well as a lot of other amazing reads) today and blast off on your next great adventure!

Have a wonderful weekend!
Warm regards,
Kellie

 

EVEN MORE Writing Tips: Monday Night Madness

It’s Monday evening. I just submitted to two pieces – a science fiction short story and a true-story Alaskan-based poem – and I’m pretty happy with them so I’m looking forward to see if they enjoy the submissions, too. It’s already 11pm, and I should be in bed. I’m not, obviously, but I’m also too tired to work on my own writing…SO INSTEAD here are three more writing tips for my fellow creatives:

  1. Keep it simmering. It’s something Hank Green said on Twitter about his new novel that really stuck with me. He worked on the novel for years, but when he wasn’t “actively working on it” he kept it simmering in his mind anyway. Thinking about it in the shower and such. It’s a good idea for all writers, and one I really connected with. So, keep it simmering, everyone!
  2. Realize that you can’t write all the time and be okay with it. Know your limits. Know your boundaries. (For example, one of my limits is I refuse to work on revisions when I’m tired, so on Wednesday night, even though I planned on working on revisions, I was sleepy. I know I’m bound to make mistakes when I’m sleepy and get more annoyed at the manuscript when I’m sleepy, so I didn’t work on it.
  3. Don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t been able to write or brainstorm or edit or read in a while. Other priorities take precedence and that’s okay. If you’re really busy, though, try scheduling it in, an hour or so at a time, or less if necessary! Friday evening can be a reading time, Saturday morning can be a brainstorming session for your new story, etc.

What kinds of advice do you have for creative folks?

Happy Monday, everyone!
Warm regards,
Kellie

Nine Writing Goals for 2018

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

So as the new year comes in with a bang, I’m reflecting on how 2017 turned out and what I’d like to do different for 2018. Honestly, 2017 was a rough year for me in many ways, but in my writing world it was pretty good. Here were some writing successes:

  1. Losing Hold was published in April AND nominated for two Golden Crown Literary Awards: a 2018 Goldie Award in the Tee Corinne Award for Outstanding Cover Design category and a 2018 Goldie Award in the Science Fiction / Fantasy category.
  2. Finding Hekate was nominated for an award: a 2017 James Tiptree Jr. Award.
  3. I finished the first draft of the Severed Ties and got some insightful comments back from my beta readers!
  4. I successfully wrote some holiday gifts for my followers: two flash fiction pieces for my newsletter subscribers, a poem for my Instagram peeps, and a short story for everyone else! The short story, A Desert Welcome, is posted on my website under the Prompt Plot 2017 Holiday Gift, so go check it out!

I want my this year to be EVEN BETTER. Here are nine writing goals to strive for:

  1. clean up Severed Ties early this year, come up with a different title, and submit to publishers in March/April
  2. write first draft of the second book of fantasy series, submit to beta readers by end of the year (shoot for October)
  3. plot the third book
  4. have a daily writing goal, depending on what I’m working on
    1. For revising my first novel – 1/2 chapter per night
    2. For plotting out my second novel – figure out at least one plot point/character/interesting per night, WritingSnippet
    3. For writing anything – 250 words per night
  5. submit to at least five literary magazines (short stories/flash fiction/poetry)
    1. related: get published in at least one literary magazine
  6. go to one writing/geeky conference as a vendor to promote my Cicatrix Duology/other writings
  7. go to one writing conference as a writer, to learn more things
  8. work on making my newsletter more exciting/engaging and build my newsletter subscribers
  9. Amp up my social media presence some more; have fun with it!
    1. do some more stuff on my website, too

SO MANY THINGS. And I’m excited for all of them. Now, time to play some games with my family and have another cup of tea. I hope your 2018 is amazing!

Happy First Day of 2018!
Warm regards,
Kellie

 

 

 

Geeky Gift Ideas

The holidays are upon us once again, and it’s time to buy those last-minute gifts. Instead of screaming internally at your insanely-long GiftToDo List, take a look at these ideas and see if they’re right for that geeky friend of yours!

For the Star Lover: Solar Orbit Necklace

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For the (Harry Potter) Book/Movie Lover: Harry Potter House Comforter

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For the Trinket Lover: Potion bottle

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For the Board Game Lover: Pandemic

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For the Steampunk Child: Mechanical DIY 20-Minute Timer

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For the Critical Role Lover: Chronicles of Exandria Art Book

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For the Cat Lover: Cat’s Meow Stationary Set

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For the Scientist: Ethanol Stemless Wine Glass

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For the Star Trek Lover: Star Trek Logo Mug

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For the Book Lover: The Book is Better mug

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SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT: For the Science Fiction Lover: Finding Hekate and Losing Hold
(f/f scifi romance; perfect for Firefly lovers, too!)

FINDING HEKATE COVER WEB VIEW 72dpi   losingholdebookcover300dpi

Hope this gift list has paired yours down a little, and happy hunting for the rest!

Warm regards,
Kellie

IT’S FREAKIN’ DECEMBER 7TH

It’s December.

December.

DECEMBER.

And not only is it December, it’s freaking December 7th! We just celebrated Thanksgiving a few weeks ago and Jess’ birthday a couple of days ago. We celebrate Mom’s birthday in a few days. Two weeks after that, it’s Dad’s birthday AND THEN CHRISTMAS, New Year’s Eve/Day, AND THEN MY BIRTHDAY.

As you can see, December is a whirlwind of birthday cake, presents, shopping, prepping, and celebrating, and I don’t mind one bit. I love this time of year, with the fairy lights and the Christmas music and the giving of gifts. It’s hectic, but it’s a fun kind of hectic and I’m happy to be home for the magic of the season.

(Now, if only it would stop raining here – you read that right, RAIN in ALASKA in DECEMBER – and give me some fluffy white snow, that’ll be perfect.)

I wish you the best and brightest December, and even if you celebrate a different holiday or no holiday at all, I hope you feel a little bit of the magic, too.

Until next time,
Kellie

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

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