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
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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
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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

 

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. 

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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

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

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!

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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

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. 🙂

 

Winter Melody

The snow crunches underfoot, studded tires rumble over ice, and the air seems to hold its breath, muffled by the snow and the dark.

Even tea pots whistle more often (in my home at least).

Winter is here. Arrived suddenly, frost on the cars, the windows, the road.

Arrived with its own melody in tow.

Am I happy? When I’m sipping hot tea and looking at the falling snow, yes. When I’m walking outside all bundled up and enjoying the crisp winter air, yes.

But when the car slides over a patch of ice? Not so much.

It’s then I remember the winter melody isn’t all sweet notes, there are some dour ones, too. Bitter cold, black ice, gloomy moods. Sometimes I can’t even get out of my parking lot! It’s an adventure for sure.

The good times always outweigh the bad, though, the upswings conquer the down. And sometimes the air even sparkles!

So be happy with this icy winter melody of ours, I know I will be…for the most part anyway.

Happy Friday!
Warm regards,
Kellie