The Publishing Process: Curling Vines & Crimson Trades

SO MANY THINGS ARE HAPPENING FOR MY UPCOMING NOVEL!

Last month I finally came up with the title for the second book in my adult fantasy series I’ve just been calling “Orenda’s story:” Curling Vines & Crimson Trades.

The first Thursday of this month (July 2) I turned in Curling Vines & Crimson Trades to Desert Palm Press and now I’m a ball of excitement. I celebrated with some wine and cookies, like you do. 🙂

So now that the manuscript has been turned in to the publishing house, a couple of things gets set in motion. Every publisher is different, of course, but here are some things we need to start working on.

  1. Editing: The manuscript sits the editor for the first round of edits for the big overarching changes (also known as developmental editing) and then it comes back to me to incorporate those edits. It goes back to the editor for a second round of edits for the line-level changes like grammar and spelling and punctuation (also known as copyediting) and then it comes back to me again to incorporate them again. After that second round of edits, it goes back to the publisher to get the interior designed. Once the interior design is finished, I get to see a printed version and give it one more pass through. So right now for Curling Vines & Crimson Trades, it’s in the editor’s hands.
  2. Cover Design: There’s a cover design brief that I need to work on right now. It’s a document where I write out a synopsis for the cover designer to give them a feel of the book and work on the blurb for the back cover. I add in keywords and themes and any kinds of cover ideas I have so the designer can read through it and create the artwork. I’ve been doing a whole lot of work on that this week. After I turn that in, the designer creates mockups for me and Desert Palm Press to review (trying out different fonts and scenes and such). Then we pick the one that best suits the book!
  3. Marketing: This is such a huge thing that Desert Palm Press and that I work on. And I really have to actually start working on it. On my side of things, I’ll have a giant Word document where I put all my links and ideas about marketing. I have a list of possible places for reviews, interview/articles/press releases, podcasts, newsletters, guest posts, etc. Then I have another document that has drafts of each of those asks (so, for example, I’ll have an email draft where I ask someone to review Curling Vines & Crimson Trades, another draft where I ask if someone would be willing to interview me, etc). I’ll prep Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram posts. I’ll figure out events and brainstorm some other unique ideas to push the book out into the world. (Virtually, because COVID is still a huge deal.) Anyway, I still need to work on this quite a lot. If you run a blog, a newspaper, or a podcast and would like to feature me and my book, let me know! I’m always open for new ideas.

So…yeah, SO MANY THINGS ARE HAPPENING and I am so incredibly excited for all of it. Just so you know, I’ll have way more announcements once I know more: once the cover design is finalized, some marketing ideas, the pub date, etc. (Also: If you want to keep more up-to-date on writing stuff, consider signing up to my newsletter ~ Synergy Newsletter ~ which is Only Good News these days since the world is on fire. It goes out twice a month.)

Hope you’re having a lovely weekend thus far!
Warm regards,
Kellie

When Authors Fall

With all the fervor surrounding J.K. Rowling and as part of the queer community, I felt like I have to speak up.

Firstly, if any of my readers are trans (or if anyone seeing this is trans), let me tell you this: trans women are women, trans men are men, and trans lives matter. Non-binary people matter. I see you all, I respect you all, and I believe we should all live and love without judgment. ❤

So here’s the thing, I grew up with the Harry Potter books. It’s safe to say ~ and I always do~ that reading Harry Potter inspired me to become a writer and to create magical (and tech-riddle and fabulous) worlds of my own. With all the flaws I can see looking back at Harry Potter, I still really do love the series. It’s nostalgic, like a warm blanket that takes me back into my childhood and reminds me that magic still exists. I own all the books, I have a bunch of merch, I’ve watched all the movies, and I went to the opening day of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and happily waited seven hours to get inside. The series will hold a special place in my heart.

That being said, what Rowling said in her blogpost – and has said in the past concerning *waves her hand at all the problematic and transphobic Tweets* all of this – is wrong and hurtful to a large group, and as a longtime fan, I am honestly so disappointed in her. I will no longer support any future books written by her. I unfollowed her on her social media platforms. She’s a fallen author in my eyes, and I hope she sincerely apologizes for her hurtful words.

However, I think this is where we can separate the work from the author, especially since Harry Potter is a backlist title. I believe that once the book is published, it’s out there in the world and out there for the readers. The author can’t really do much about it. (As much as the author would desperately want to, see Rowlings “additions” via random Tweets…or actually, don’t.) Now perhaps this is my nostalgic glasses sliding down my nose because I can’t bear to let Harry Potter go, but to be honest, I think we – the Harry Potter fandom – can keep the series. Can hold the beloved books close to our chest. Can even keep our houses if it makes us happy. (Though it’s clear on the Twitterverse that perhaps we should stop sorting into houses? There are some super fun other sorts – like D&D alignments, elements, even other books!) It’s not a perfect series by any means, but it is quite special to me.

So I think even though the author has fallen and let her fans down, we, as the fandom, can keep that Harry Potter magic inside of us. For as long as we want to.

Don’t forget to love each other!
Warm regards,
Kellie

 

A Wild Monday Night Post Appears

*blows off the dust that’s been gathering at the corners of the blog, dusts some cobwebs away*

Oh, hello there! It’s been quite a while, hasn’t it? Yes, yes, it looks like the last time I posted was *checks last post* all the way back in January 2020. Wow!

Is anyone surprised that this blog was pushed to the corner of my mind once again? Well, if you’ve been one of my readers, you really shouldn’t be.

Why? you may ask.

BECAUSE I HAVE TOO MANY THINGS TO DO

…but honestly…

I don’t make enough time for this blog.

There, I said it. I don’t make enough time for blogging. I don’t know why that is either. I like writing. I like chatting about my grand adventures (none of which have been happening of late because…well…you know). I like posting writing advice and cute cat photos and publishing news and the like.

I just don’t carve enough time out of my week to do so.

I’ve tried calendar reminders. I’ve tried phone notifications. I’ve tried to write many posts at once so I could schedule them. I even have a Word doc on my desktop titled “cool things to blog about!”

I just…don’t.

*shrugs*

And it can’t be because I’m “too busy” because I just started to create a fantasy map on a new program called Inkarnate because I think that’ll be fun and interesting and quite frankly, way better than the one I drafted in Adobe Illustrator. I have “time” for that. (I think.)

I have been writing, too. I joined Fantasy Faction last year so I’ve been doing monthly posts for them, the most recent one: Feb 2019 about the new Firefly comic.(I’ve submitted others since then but they have a bit of a backlog.)

I’ve also been working on my adult fantasy series, book two, Orenda’s story. I still have to come up with a better name for it though. I’m nearly complete with my round of revisions and will be shipping it off to my publisher in July of this year. That’s right: JULY OF THIS YEAR. So crazy.

And of course I’ve been working at my day job and freelance editing and playing D&D and reading some fabulous books and doing all the nerdy stuff you know and love me for.

So why not this?

Honestly, I don’t know.

I’ll try to be better. I’ll try to blog more often…once a month sounds doable, right?

Right.

Well…we’ll see.

Until then, wash your hands, tell someone you love them…you know the drill by now. ❤
Warm regards,
The Never-Blogger (aka: Kellie)

2019 Ended SO FAST

The end of 2019 passed by in a blur of holidays, events, and so, so many cool things.

Here are a few cool things

  • Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties won a Rainbow Award in the Fantasy genre! I’m super honored and excited that my first dip into fantasy earned such a great award from the queer community.
  • I had an amazing interview with BiCast, a bi+-centered podcast that focuses on all things geeky and bi+! I had a lovely time chatting with Elizabeth and Mick so be sure to listen to it when you get the chance.
  • I participated in three more events—the Alaska Writer’s Guild diversity panel on September 21, Bosco’s Small Press Expo on October 12, and the Chugiak-Eagle River Library NaNoWriMoPrep panel on October 26. I had such a great time at all these events, and I’m excited to participate in more in the future!
  • We visited our extended family over Thanksgiving—took a trip to Albany, NY, and then played tourist in New York, NY. The Rockefeller Tree lighting was seriously amazing (though standing for six hours was intense), the Strand bookstore gave me serious Powell’s vibes, and Cher sang beautifully. We also celebrated Jess’ birthday while in the city!
  • ALL THE BIRTHDAYS—My sister Jess kicks off the birthday season on December 5, then Mom on December 10, then Dad on December 24, and then me on January 4. Squeeze in Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, and it’s a seriously busy time for the Doherty family.

One HUGE Milestone for Me (aside from the awesomeness that is Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties, ha!): Author Events

  • I never really saw myself doing events (things like speaking in conferences, sitting on panels, doing book signings) because those types of things are so far out of my comfort zone. Back in 2019, I pushed myself and did nine events for Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties. NINE! I honestly never thought I’d do so many, but here’s a freaking list (for my reference later on):
    • May 11 – Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties author party
    • June 20 – Mosquito Books Signing
    • June 29 – PrideFestival vendor
    • July 12 – UAA Bookstore author panel
    • July 20 – Black Birch Books signing
    • September 21 – Alaska Writer’s Guild diversity panel
    • October 12 – Bosco’s Small Press Expo vendor
    • October 26 – Chugiak-Eagle River Library NaNoWriMoPrep panel
    • December 14 – BiCast Podcast interview

I hope to do more events this year, so if you know of any cool happenings in the fantasy, queer, or writing world, hit me up!

2020 goals?
I have two main goals this year. Finish my current fantasy WIP (Book Two in my Broken Chronicles fantasy series) and get a full-time job in the publishing industry. Wish me luck!

I hope the start of the New Year is treating you amazingly, friends! What kinds of goals are you reaching for this year?

Warm regards,
Kellie

Mythological Beasts for Friday the 13th

Today is Friday the 13th and I thought I’d celebrate this spooky holiday by sharing some interesting mythological beasts from around the world. As a fantasy writer, one of the best places to find creature-inspiration is doing a deep dive into mythological beasts.

Here are my favorites thus far.

Enenra

enenra

Enenra is a yōkai made up of wisps of smoke, which rise up into the sky from a fires, such as the takibi bonfires which farmers light to dispose of the remains of their harvests. As the smoke rises, human-like faces appear and disappear in its form.

Seems pretty scary, right? Wrong! In the Japanese mythos, it’s thought that this creature is actually not smoke but rather spirits of the dead, and it only shows itself to the pure of heart and calm. This creature isn’t intentionally scary, just the dead trying to communicate.

(I drew inspiration from this creature for book one of the Broken Chronicles: Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties. My fantasy smoke-like eneeraa was based off of the Japanese yokai named enenra. I pulled from the common description of the enenra but made it my own by making my eneeara smaller, faster, and not tied down to flames/campfires. I  decided to make it kind of creepy so my characters wouldn’t really like being around it. Misti, for one, is really skittish when she’s around Stee’s eneeraa.)
 

Qalupalik
qalupalik-concept-art

The myth of the Qalupalik was a frightening story that kept children from playing on the hazardous sea ice. lay waiting for them. The Qalupalik was ocean creatures with a human form; green scaly skin; long hair; and long, sharp fingernails. 

A deep thrumming noise would also accompany this terrifying Inuit myth. The creature would snatch children who got too close to the ocean with its long, sharp fingernails and drown them under the icy depths. As if that wasn’t scary enough, apparently it also had the face of a woman which had turned bloated and green from the ocean waters! What a thing to see in your last moments.

Nian
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According to tales and legends, the beginning of Chinese New Year started with the fight against a mythical beast called Nian, who had the body of a bull and the head of a lion. It was said to be a ferocious animal that lived in the mountains and hunted for a living. Towards the end of Winter when there was nothing to eat, Nian would come on the first day of New Year to the villages to eat livestock, crops, and even villagers, especially children. 

This ferocious Nian wreaked havoc on the little village in China (and probably many others). It would eat kids, for goodness sake! The villagers would put out food offerings in hopes to lure the creature away, but the Nian’s appetite was too great. They eventually discovered that fire, loud noises, and the color red scares the Nian and so that’s why they celebrate the Chinese New Year with fireworks and red-colored decorations, even to this day! (Super cool history fact right there.)

Wendigo
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Roughly translated, the word ‘Wendigo’ (also spelt Windigo and Windego) means ‘the evil spirit that devours mankind’. … This hunger is reflected in their appearance, which, according to some, is extremely thin. 

This Native American beast is quite scary. With glowing eyes, long tongues, and yellow fangs, and a penchant for human flesh, you wouldn’t want to meet on of these in a dark forest. Or become one! This creature is also native to the northern forests of Nova Scotia, the Atlantic Coast, and Great Lakes Region of Canada. (It’s interesting how many cultures can come up with similar myths over the generations.)

(I drew inspiration from this creature, too, when I wrote the flash fiction piece: The Curse. It’s on The Regal Fox’s website if you’d like to be scared this lovely Friday the 13th!)

Grootslang
groot.jpg

The story is that the original Grootslang was found to be too powerful, so the gods subdivided the animal into two species: the elephant and the snake. However, a Grootslang or two escaped this fate and reproduced. The monster can grow up to 60 feet long. (this website will show you a bunch of cool African legendary monsters)

This African monster was a legendary snake-creature and one of the first the gods created. It crushes its victims with its body and can eat elephants whole! The legend goes that the gods themselves recognized the error of creating such a powerful creature and tried to kill the Grootslang but it managed to survive and has spawned many since. Much like a European dragon, the Grootslang likes glittering objects and commonly hoards over diamonds.

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Scared yet? I am. But I’m inspired, too! I’ve always loved the mythological creatures and legends that surround them, as well as the historical aspects and traditions that come into play because of such beasts. As a writer, it really helps me to pull from all of these amazing myths to create the creatures of my fantasy world.

But there are so many others! Readers, what kinds of mythological beasts inspire or fascinate you? Let me know in the comments!

Happy Friday the 13!
Warm regards,
Kellie

 

Book Reviews

You’ve heard it again and again: book reviews are super important.

But why?

Here’s a quick list for you!

  • Reviews help gain traction for the book, since most of the time if the book has more reviews, there’s a better chance for blogging communities to pick it up, for book clubs to get excited about it, and raise book clubs interest in it.
  • Reviews help the book get seen by more potential readers since some websites promote books with more reviews.
  • Reviews help other readers figure out if they’d like to buy the book by giving them an idea of what the book is about.
  • Authors love reviews as it helps them promote the book (for blog tours/online promotions, in marketing materials, on social media art, etc.).
  • Reviews help cement the viability of the author.

What kinds of reviews are the best?

  • Honest ones.
  • Constructive ones, what works and what doesn’t, both positive and negative.
  • Avoid spoilers (or add spoiler warnings).
  • Comment on the plot, characters, setting, writing style, etc.
  • Give thoughtful commentary.
  • Length doesn’t really matter; short or long, any review helps.

So it’s pretty clear that reviews are super important. Authors love them and publishers love them, and if you loved the work, leave a review! Sing their praises! It’ll make the author’s day.

Now, here’s where I center it on me for a little bit. (You saw this coming, didn’t you?) If you’ve read Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties or my two science fiction works, please leave a review on whatever platform you’d like!

SFST-cover-final-web-optimized

I’d really appreciate it. Happy Labor Day Weekend!
Warm regards,
Kellie

 

 

Homeschooled = Miserable? Not For Me.

I was scrolling through Twitter on my afternoon break a month or so ago—as one does—and a tweet caught my eye. It asked folks to stop writing stories about “sheltered and miserable” homeschooled kids. I didn’t even know this trope existed in the literary world, let alone have other Twitter folk commenting on it and asking for the same thing. (And I admit, it’s probably because that would be more of a middle grade or maybe YA transition story so not really my world.) But as a former-homeschooled-kid, I really don’t like this portrayal. It’s been over a month now and perhaps it’s because school is starting up again, but the disappointment has stuck with me and I figured I’d give a counter-argument to the “miserable/sheltered” idea.

I was homeschooled from 1st through 8th grade; my mom and dad taught me. Dad taught history, Mom taught English, science, math, etc. I was taught at home, at the kitchen table, one-on-one, with notebooks and workbooks and flashcards and tests and papers and the whole shebang.

Husky-Dog-Say-What-Homework-Very-Funny-Meme-Picture

And contrary to the “miserable” theme, it was great! My dad did a lovely job with teaching me history, even going so far as to record himself reading the history text and expanding on them when we went to visit Nana and he was busy at work. My mom spent hours teaching both my sister and I how to spell, write, do math, learn about science,—all kinds of core things that I’d be learning if I went to school down the street—and she did an amazing job! I did tests and quizzes and had to meet a certain standard to pass through the grades, just like kids in school. I was not miserable.

Now for the “sheltered” bit, I can see how folks might think that. A kid being taught at home isn’t really getting the experience of being out in the world or forging those connections with other kids, but my parents tried to alleviate that, too.

I’d start school after breakfast and usually get done before lunch. (Amazing, right?) That freed my afternoons for homework and a myriad of clubs and after-school activities. I went to drawing classes, 4-H, Girl Scouts, did horseback riding, and a couple of other things to keep myself busy and to keep me on good social terms with the rest of my peers. 

clubs.jpeg

Did I get as much one-on-one time with other kids like the ones in public school? No, of course not. But did I get enough socialization for a fulfilling and wonderful childhood? Hell yes. Did I make enough friends? Of course! (I’m STILL friends with some of my Girl Scout troop to this day!) I was probably sheltered on a few other things—bullying, for one, probably, though there were some…interesting characters in my old 4H group—but every kid goes through their schooling differently.

I do admit that transitioning out of homeschool into private school with the hallways and classrooms and lots of different teachers and so many other kids did shock me a bit. So if that’s a feature of the homeschool-to-public-school trope, then that’s true for me, too. (I got over it in about a week.)

Perhaps some homeschooled kids were miserable and sheltered (my heart goes out to those kids) but perhaps some of them were happy to be homeschooled…like me!

homeschool

My point? Each experience is different, each perspective is different, each kid is different. So here’s hoping there’s a few portrayals of happy homeschoolers out there in the literature world, too, because some of us had an amazing time. 

Happy Friday!
Warm regards,

Kellie

 

Life and Other Things

{A wild Wednesday post appears!}

So it dawned on me that I haven’t posted anything on this blog since June. Summer, right? Yes, but also summer in Alaska when the sun shines and the sky is the brightest of blues? Hell to the yes I’m going to spend time outside!

Here are photos as proof:

In July, our 2am sunshine could’ve fooled folks into thinking it was 2pm. Gotta love summer in the Land of the Midnight Sun.

Anyway, life has been super busy for me. My day-job has ramped up with some new changes and responsibilities; I just renewed my freelancing contract for another year with Tiger Oak Media so I’m doing that and my other freelancing gigs as they come my way; and I’m working on creating the 2019 Alaska Writer’s Guild Writer’s & Illustrator’s Conference program.

As for writing, promoting Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties has been going really well and all my events were successful thus far. I’m currently working on Book Two: Orenda’s Story of the Broken Chronicles. (It’s a working title; I dunno what I’m going to call it yet.) I’m trying to write each weekend, and then brainstorm during the week but man, writing is hard when all I want to do is something mindless after a long week of working nonstop. (Ha!)

I’ve rejoined my critique group so I meet up with them Monday from 7-9pm at a local coffee shop and it’s been really great. I’m so glad I decided to join them again. Critiquing their works is so much fun and they have some amazing advice for mine, too. Being at the meetings also provides motivation for me to write, too, so that’s been lovely. I’m one of the faculty at the AWG Writer’s conference, so I need to start brainstorming questions since I’m going to be moderating a panel on LGBTQIA+ writing. It’s next month!

(Oh! Did I tell you Desert Palm Press has a new website design? Pretty cool, yeah!)

So overall, I’ve been busy, but I’m still writing and still promoting my books and still being awesome. I do have a tentative deadline for the first draft of my Orenda story that I’m shooting for, though I am telling EXACTLY NO ONE what it is.

Well, that’s it for me for this life update. How’s life treating you lately? Love to hear about it in the comments!

Hope you’re having a lovely week thus far!
Warm regards,
Kellie

Say What? A Sunkissed Feathers Pronunciation Guide.

Fantasy and science fiction, in general, have some hard-to-pronounce words since the writers are usually making things up—names, villages, magics, techs, etc.—and while it’s tempting to have a character named Bob, that usually isn’t the case. (Or if there was a character named that, chances are that character’s name would be spelled Boyb or something.)

My novel – Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties – is no different. It’s high fantasy and has some interesting names tucked within its pages. Some of my readers wanted a pronunciation guide, so I’m creating one for some common words. I’ll begin with a few character, race, and species names:

  • Zora – Zor-ah
  • Dylori – Die-lore-ee
  • Arias – Ah-rye-us
  • Zarious – Zar-ee-us
  • Aluriah – Al-er-i-ah
  • Ponuriah – Pon-oo-ri-ah
  • Elu – E-loo
  • Nemora – Ne-more-ah
  • Divus – Deh-vus
  • Vagari – Vah-gar-ee
  • Vulnix – vul-nix
  • Neades – nee-dees

I hope that’s helpful to my readers out there. ❤ Let me know which words are hard to pronounce – or which ones you’d like to see my version of how to say them – in the comments and I’ll add them to my next list!

Happy Saturday, everyone!
Warm regards,
Kellie

Event Planning? Here Are Some Tips.

I had a successful author event earlier last month—the first solo event I’ve ever created—celebrating Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties and let me tell you it was amazing! I had two weeks to pull it together, and it was stressful and intense and creative and fun and also insane. Here are some things I picked up along the way:

  1. Make a list. Yeah, make a freaking list of things you need to do between now and the day of the event because if you don’t, the Thursday prior you’ll realize that you don’t actually have nice pens and you’ll have to borrow some from work on Friday and bring them back on Monday. (That featured image? Yeah, it was a part of the Night Before list of things I had to gather.)
  2. Get some pens! Seriously. Pens are kinda necessary for authors when they do a signing. This tip builds into another—prep ahead of time. Gather all the things you need in one location, so you’re not scrambling the week—or night—of.
  3. Pick a unique venue. Venue plays a huge part in the event. I chose a local coffee shop called Jitters because I live in Eagle River, I’ve been to Jitters a million times, and I really enjoy the comfortable and casual vibe of it. (Plus, it’s literally two minutes away from where I live.)
  4. Expect one disaster. Yup, this is a tip I’m giving you. Expect a disaster. Just plan for (at least) one and try not to panic when it happens. I had a cat literally leap onto my freshly baked and decorated tray of cupcakes the morning of my event. Disasters happen, just breathe through it.
  5. During the event, enjoy it. Have fun. Yes, it’ll be stressful and you’ll be juggling a lot and you’ll have to be “on” the whole time, but this event is yours. It’s a celebration, and you should enjoy it while it lasts! (I know I did.)

Have you thrown events before, and if so, how’d it go? Did you have any fabulous or favorite disasters that happened? Let me know!
Warm regards,
Kellie