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

A Reflection

I just finished applying to a job and that got me thinking. It’s amazing how much things can change in a year. Last year I had just completed the button-making party for Write to Publish 2016. I was nervous because I’d been working on this day since March 2015 and Chels and I wanted it to go well. (Spoiler Alert: It went well.) I had written a blogpost with the same title as this one and in it, I mused how things were different than the year prior and about how things would be different next year, too. I mused that I’d be graduated, that I’d find a job, and that I might even move to a new location. (While knocking on allll the wood, of course.)

Well, it is “next year” and yes, things are different. I did graduate last year. It was an amazing weekend and I’m so happy I got to share it with my family and friends. Turns out the wood knocking didn’t quite help as quickly as I would’ve liked because I haven’t gotten a job, yet. This fact is honestly the most disappointing thing thus far but I have to keep my hopes up that’ll it happen for me. I also haven’t moved, yet, which makes sense because I would’ve moved for a job. Even if I do get a job in Portland, I was thinking about moving from this location to elsewhere. I love this apartment and it’s been a good home for the past two and a half years, but it’s quite expensive and I don’t need to be near the university any longer.

Next year? Well things will change again, of course. I’ll have a job, I’d moved, and I’ll be facing another challenge that life will unexpectedly throw at me. It’ll be different, but I know I’ll be able to handle it.

For now, though, I have to be focused on finding a full-time job, something that’s been my obsession since I graduated. It’s getting harder with each month, honestly, harder to push on and apply to yet another position even though I’ve applied (and lost) so many before. But I’ll do it, of course, I have to. I’ll write all the cover letters, re-do all the resumes, and participate in all the interviews until I land a position.

Wish me luck!

I hope you’re having a lovely Tuesday!
Warm regards,
Kellie

LifeGoals in 2017

Well, here we are. There are only two more days in 2016, and as this year comes to a close, I’m left to wonder what my goals are for the new one. To that end, I’ve complied a list of goals I’d like to complete in 2017:

Secure a Job
This one’s a no-brainer for me. It’s been my goal since I graduated PSU, but since 2016 was a little harsh, this one has to be the first one on the list. Here’s hoping 2017 will bring more opportunities!

Create and Stick To a Fitness Plan
Note how I didn’t say, “go on a diet.” Diets are tricky and they have a bad connotation in my mind because they remove food that I enjoy. Don’t get me wrong, my fitness plan will still cut back on the unhealthy foods—cookies, I’m looking at you most of all—but it won’t remove them entirely. (I hope to create healthier versions of the unhealthy food.) My plan will also include finding workouts I enjoy—like zumba, step, or swimming—and doing them more often in order to lose weight and become stronger.

Write More/Launch Losing Hold
I’m currently working on the first book of my fantasy series! It’s the first draft so it’s just me getting the story on the page at the moment, but I plan to have the draft done by end of March/beginning of April. Why? Losing Hold is slated to launch in April and that was the perfect deadline for me. Launching Losing Hold is also a goal for this spring, so I’ll be working on a marketing plan and then initiating it, too. I also plan on writing more in this blog, as I seemed to have fallen off the wagon a bit.

Do More Activities
I sway to being a homebody more than anything else. This isn’t exactly a new discovery; I’ve always liked hanging out at home. After all, I have tea, a computer with internet access, food I can cook into something yummy, and my two cats…it’s a cozy and comfortable space. Plus, since I don’t have a job, going out and paying for things I don’t really need—like a drink or a book or a meal or a movie ticket, etc.—seems unwise. I do take walks and go to free things, but I hope to do more activities in the coming year. Meetups come to mind! And wherever I get a job I hope to engage in after-work activities and really try to put myself out there more often. It’s something I always want to do, but don’t do nearly enough.

Make New Friends
This one goes hand-in-hand with the “Do More Activities” idea. Since graduating from PSU, my friend circle has diminished quite a bit. A lot of my friends moved away to bigger and better things (namely: jobs) and I’m quite happy for them, of course! But it means I don’t hang out with friends nearly as often as I probably should. Because of that, I plan on making some new friends this year!

Annnnnd that’s all the goals I’ve formulated thus far! I might add more as time goes on, of course, but I like how the list is shaping up. They all seem like accomplishable goals for me, and I’m excited to learn what opportunities 2017 has in store.

What are some of your life goals for the new year? I’d love it know in the comments.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday this weekend!
Warm regards,
Kellie

Upon Turning The Key

I moved into this apartment in fall of 2014. It was a big move for me. A huge decision. I turned the key into a new life, a different one far away from my friends and family back in Alaska. It was an insane change. And for some crazy reason each time something huge happened in my life after that moment, I thought I would feel differently after I turned the key.

After my first class in grad school
After getting the grades back from my first term
After coming back after the holidays
After completing my first big task at Ooligan Press
After accepting the position of co-manager for Write to Publish 2016
After the day of Write to Publish 2016
After coming back from my first solo trip to LA for AWP representing Ooligan Press
After my very first book was published by Desert Palm Press
After successfully defending my thesis
After graduating from PSU with a masters in book publishing

After each of these huge accomplishments, I thought turning the key would be different. Feel different. Seem different. (Probably because the first time I came into my apartment it was such a radical change from my old life.) But it wasn’t different, really. I mean, yeah, I have some more feathers to pin in my hat and I was super proud of my accomplishments, but I was still the same person, living in the same apartment, doing my day-to-day. And I slowly realized that actually turning the key wasn’t the thing that made it such a life-changing event.

Moving was. Getting my own apartment was. Starting a new career path was. The turning of the key was just a simple way of calling this place—and this new life—home.

I hope you’re having a lovely Wednesday!
Warm regards,
Kellie

A New Box of Books!

Hello everyone!

Last week I got a box of books of Finding Hekate fresh off the press! I’m pretty excited about it because 1) three of them went to Another Read Through, a local bookstore here in Portland, so that means I have books in TWO BOOKSTORES and that’s pretty badass, and 2) it means I can do some more giveaways! I’ve been brainstorming this week about things that I could do and thus far I’ve come up with this (keep in mind: these are still pretty new):

Doing a Twitter Hashtag Event (3 books)

  • In order to share the love of science fiction books, where people share their favorite science fiction books and I’ll pick the top three at random that Saturday?
  • Possible (mostly unused) hashtags
    • #FavoriteSciFiStory (?)
    • #SciFiStorytellers (?)

Goodreads Giveaway or create an event on Goodreads? (1 book)

  • Research how the heck to do this…

Donate one to the Queer Resource Center (PSU) and the In Other Words Feminist Society (2 books)

  • just because 🙂

Join together with a bunch of other authors to do a giveaway to support others and make it more of an event? (1 book each…or more?)

  • Science fiction only? A #ShootToTheStars Giveaway!
  • super easy way to enter – just put in your email address into a Google form?
    • Then I’d link it to the other authors?
  • Who would I ask to join?
  • How do I start doing this?

Do something for National Coming Out Day (Oct. 11)? (1 book)

  • Something simple?

So…yeah, as you can see, I’m still in the hashing-things-down stage of this. I’m going to reach out to some authors to see the kinds of giveaways and such they’ve tried. What worked and what didn’t. It’s been a fun process! I’m probably not going to giveaway all of them but doing a few of these ideas might increase my overall readership and fanbase. 🙂

Fellow creatives: What have you done-giveaway wise-that’s worked in the past?

I hope you’re having a lovely day!
Warm regards,
Kellie

Ten Things That Make Me Happy

Hello everyone!

So job hunting is tough. I’ve been looking for two months now and gotten very little leads. Plus it’s been super hot here in Portland, my body is freaking out, and I’m getting more and more annoyed about everything as the weeks go by. So, in order to cheer myself up, I’ve decided to list ten things that make me happy.

  1. chatting or hanging out with my friends and family
  2. whenever my cats do something silly/stupid/funny
  3. talking about my book and/or seeing a new review about Finding Hekate
  4. working on my new fantasy series – I’m up to magic now!
  5. watching (and being inspired by) Critical Role
  6. reading a new book (The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss is turning out okay, but more on that in another post!)
  7. listening to the rain while drinking tea/hot chocolate
  8. swimming
  9. crossing off things on my ToDo list
  10. getting hooked on a new cool TV show

I do this every now and then, write down things that makes me happy or say things that I’m grateful for. It helps to put me in a better mindset. I know I’ll eventually find a job, I know the summer will wind down into fall, and I know my body will stop freaking out. Until then, I just have to be patient and be happy about the good things I have right now.

So, what makes you happy? I’d love to know!
Warm regards,
Kellie

 

Critical Role Rolls Right Into My Geeky Heart

Hello fellow geeks!

Have you heard about Critical Role? It’s a Geek and Sundry show where a bunch of voice actors play D&D (Dungeons and Dragons, for those dice novices out there). If you’re at all interested in roleplaying games, or great acting, or amazing storytelling, or geeky subplots, or creatures of the dark, or anything at all, really, you should watch it.

Now I’m the first person to tell you that the first episode is kind-of slow. I had a rough time getting through it, but I was also late to the game, joining the party about three months after it had started and after it had built a pretty substantial fanbase. The audio on that first episode is crazy. The storytelling is a bit odd. And the characters seem way outta left field. But give it a chance. When you get to episode two and beyond, once they fix the audio and spruce the place up a bit, it’s an amazing show. See, at Critical Role’s core, it’s just a bunch of friends hanging out and playing a D&D campaign. They crack jokes. Laugh. Eat pizza or chicken or donuts. Compliment each other on their acting. And that’s how Critical Role started out, an at-home game between friends. Now, it’s a show with thousands of viewers (aptly called Critters) who dominate Twitter when it goes live on Thursday night on Twitch. It’s a show that spawns gorgeous fanart and risky fanfiction. One that brings people together, in person and online. One that transcends continents, even.

How can a D&D campaign get so popular? Well, a few different facets make this particular gem. The storytelling by Matthew Mercer, the dungeon master of the campaign, is amazing. He brings such life to the game, with his plot twists and turns, his many NPCs (non-playable characters) where each one has a different voice, and his ability to allow the other players do epic (and often humorous) stunts with a simple, “you can certainly try.” He’s the mastermind of the group, and a driving force of why so many Critters out there want to be DMs. Because of his storytelling, they’ve had a range of quests, from epic battles facing beholders to simple bar hopping adventures. His merry band of adventurers have faced death, been forced to make tough choices, and yes, even fallen in love under in his story spell. There’s action, adventure, romance, drama, and humor all rolled into one. His words paint a picture so clear, any writer would be jealous. (I certainly am, but I’m inspired, too!)

But he’s certainly not the only reason why Critters love the show. The other voice actors—the half-elf twins Vax and Vex played by Liam O’Brien and Laura Bailey, the human gunslinger Percy played by Taliesin Jaffe, the druid Keyleth played by Marisha Ray, the barbarian Grog played by Travis Willingham, and the gnome Scanlan played by Sam Riegel—form the band of adventurers called Vox Machina. They’re at the core of what makes this show so great. Their easy banter during the quiet moments make even shopping for potions memorable, and they play their characters so well sometimes I forget that Marisha’s name isn’t Keyleth. Sometimes, like in a particularly harrowing moment in Episode 44, I forget that Vax and Vex aren’t actually “real” but because of Liam and Laura’s portrayals, the characters feel real to me. And to everyone else who watches the show. Their conversations span everything, like professing love in an awkward manner nearly everyone can relate to and apologizing for setting a death trap off to how a certain someone can keep smiling when everything seems to go to hell. They’re as relatable as a druid, half-elf, barbarian, gnome, and human can be. They’re obvious concern for one another makes the show worth watching, their interactions and character dynamic keeps the show moving forward, and honestly, the way each character balances the rest out is fascinating to watch.

They sometimes have guest actors join in the fray, too! Here I’ll add in Ashley Johnson, who plays Pike, as a constant reoccurring character. (So much so, she should probably be considered part of Vox Machina but because of Ashley’s current work schedule, she can’t be around as much as she’d probably like.) There’s also been Will Friedle and Mary Elizabeth Mcglynn. It’s always fun to see someone else join the campaign, react to the characters, and be completely awed my Matt’s words. (Other than the thousands of Critters watching.)

Okay. I’ve gushed about this show enough. But really, there’s never enough. Critical Role celebrated its one-year anniversary on Twitch in April, just had it’s its 60th episode as a highly successful liveshow and will be doing another one at GenCon, and (hopefully) still has many years to come. It’s made D&D cool to the mainstream audience. Made geeks and nerds who like spending time imagining themselves as wizards and fighting dragons feel accepted. Spawned many, many other D&D campaigns. Clearly it’s rolled right into my heart and thousands of others. Will it roll right into yours?

If there are any fellow critters out there, leave me a comment about who your favorite character is and why! To all the newbies I’ve successfully turned on to the show, let’s chat when you’re a few episodes in!

I hope you have a lovely Friday!
Warm regards,
Kellie

Job Hunting Is Hard, Guys!

Hello everyone!

It’s time for another life update. I’m in a weird bubble at the moment. I graduated last month with my MS in Book Publishing. I was super psyched about it—obviously—and I’m quite proud that I accomplished that goal—again obviously—but now I’m in a bit of a pickle. Two and a half-ish years after I quit my full-time job at MLFA in Eagle River and four and a half-ish years since I last looked for a full-time job, I’m back trying to find another one.

And guess what I forgot in my years away from the hunt?

Job hunting is hard, guys!

I did it a bit before I graduated—and landed an interview!—but then stopped for my family vacation, so I started over two weeks ago. I’ve since applied to numerous jobs, emailed a bunch of companies that didn’t have “Jobs” listed anywhere on their website to see if they have openings, and got rejected from more places that I want to mention.

Trying to find jobs that match my skills, spending all this time crafting cover letters, and redoing my resume to match the companies’ needs takes forever. And then there’s the waiting…the waiting is agony. Of course I don’t wait for the companies to get back to apply to another position—simultaneous applications all over the place!—but still, the waiting for companies to get back is crazy. I know that companies have different timetables than applicants do. I know they have a bunch of stuff on their end and other tasks might take priority. I get it, really, and I try not to be sitting on pins and needles for each application, but that’s hard not to do.

So I was pleasantly surprised that after applying to a job (with HANK AND JOHN GREEN! *falls over*) over the weekend, they had a little note saying they’d get back to the applicants by July 15 and if we hadn’t heard anything, assume we didn’t get past this first bit. This is so thoughtful it just made me want to work for them even more and if I’m ever in the position to be hiring someone, I hope to be able to do the same. I’m super excited about this particular job though, so I hope to land a second interview with them! Until then, I’m going to keep applying to ALL THE JOBS (that seem appropriate and interesting, which is a whole different thing smashing around in my brain) and keeping my fingers crossed that I land something sometime soon.

TL;DR – Job hunting is hard, but I’m excited about the possibility of working with Hank and John Green.

Do you have any sage advice about looking for a full-time job? Leave a comment!

I hope you’re having a lovely day!
Warm regards,
Kellie

 

LifeHack: What To Do When You’re Missing Home

Hello everyone!

Sorry it’s been so quiet these past two weeks. I’ve been busy job hunting (which will be a whole different post going up tomorrow so look for that!) and haven’t been writing much, to be honest.

I’ve been missing my home and my family back in Alaska pretty hard this week, and I didn’t really know what to do to make myself feel better. I was looking through some family photos from our various vacations and it helped a little, so I decided to celebrate them on here! Enjoy some random family photos from 2014 and 2015!

 

(In case you’re wondering, we went to Japan, the BVI’s, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Cannon Beach, and Alaska.)

Do I still miss my family and my home? Well, yeah. But seeing how much fun we’re having and knowing how much fun we’ll have the next time we’re all together again makes me happy, too.

TL;DR LifeHack: If you’re missing something or someone or someplace…look at pictures if you have them and remember the good times. It helps. Trust me!

Hope you’re having a lovely Saturday evening!
Warm regards,
Kellie

Graduating From Ooligan Press

Two years ago I uprooted my life and moved to Portland, Oregon, in order to pursue a Master’s of Science in Book Publishing from Portland State University. This weekend I’m graduating from that program and moving on to the next chapter of my life. It’s exciting. It’s wonderful. It’s something I’m proud to have accomplished. And…it’s also a little sad.

I loved my time here at PSU, especially at Ooligan Press, the student-run publishing house attached to the program that grad students have to be a part of in order to get their degree. Ooligan has been such an experience. I’ve learned so much working with Abbey, Per, Kathi, and the other professors here, who I’m happy to call mentors and even friends. I’ve learned so much working with my fellow students, too, and the class of 2016 has formed a merry little band that I’ll be loyal to and keeping an eye on, as well as cheering for, as the years progress. I’d be thrilled to work with them again and look forward to seeing them around the publishing sphere later in life. I’ve also learned a lot about myself during my time in this program. I’ve faced wonderful highs and terrible lows. But I’ve never been happier here at Ooligan, and that’s why I’m a bit sad to leave. It’s been wonderful here and I’ve learned so much about the business that this weekend will be a bittersweet moment.

I know that exciting things are in my future, though, and I’ll be happy to apply the knowledge I’ve gained at Ooligan and PSU to a job. (I already am, too! I had an interview this week and I understood every word he said even though it was industry speak! Abbey would be so proud.)

I’m also looking forward to updating my professional website on Sunday with how I’ve obtained my degree and redoing my resume to reflect that. I’m going to reorganize the website a little bit as well. I got some constructive feedback during my defense, especially concerning my design aspects. My committee mentioned how my designs weren’t my strong suit and how, compared to others, it might actually be a detriment. I’ve been thinking about that conversation quite a bit over the past few weeks, and I’ve acknowledged that design is something I’m still learning and my skills will grow in time. (I even say that on my website.) I don’t have a design degree or an art background so I know, compared to some other fabulous people at Ooligan, my skills are limited for now. But I also give myself some credit. Considering I didn’t know anything about the Adobe software two years ago, I’ve learned quite a bit and have come quite far. I’ve even got a reoccurring summer freelance job, so my design chops can’t be that bad. But because of that feedback, I will rearrange my website to reflect that better and I know my portfolio will be stronger because of it.

Ooligan was an amazing experience. I’ve made mentors and friends in this program that I’ll have for life and the skills I’ve obtained will help me land a job in the (hopefully near!) future. This weekend, though, I’m going to celebrate this achievement with my friends and family. My fellow Oolies and I deserve to bask in the knowledge that we’ve successfully completed this program, and I’ll raise a glass for us all!

I hope you have a lovely weekend! Mine’s certainly going to be a busy one.
Warm regards,
Kellie