A Writer’s How-To: Memorable Settings

I find the easiest way to create a memorable setting is to make it unique. If your story is set in the mountains, give the mountains a cool name with some weird creatures living in it. If the story is set in space, make the spaceship feel like home and add some quirks to it. (After all, we all have that ONE FREAKING FLOORBOARD that creeks like some horror story bad guy is coming to kill you in the middle of the night.) If your story is a romance, make the setting cozy by adding in something that means the world to the main character or something that brings up some unfinished memories.

If you give the setting something specific, something unique to itself, some defining character, readers will remember it better. (It’s the same with making memorable characters!)

Three of my favorite settings are, in no particular order: Hogwarts, because of the ghosts and the moving staircase and trick doors; Serenity, because even though it fell apart ALL THE TIME it became a home and sanctuary to the crew; the Arenas in the first and second Hunger Games books, because it seriously messed with the tributes in unique and challenging ways.

Why do I like them most? They all offered something unexpected and added dimensions to the story, as well as pushed the story along. Doing so with your settings will help your readers remember them!

Readers: what are your favorite settings and why?
Writers: what are some ways you make your settings believable?

Happy Friday, and until next time!
Warm regards,
Kellie

Book Giveaway Announcement!

Hello fellow nerds!

Would you like to win a free book? (Of course, you would. I mean, really, who wouldn’t want to win a free book? Crazy people, that’s who. Are you crazy? I think not.) Well, my non-crazy fellow nerds, you’re in luck!

I’m hosting a six-book giveaway of Losing Hold over on my author Facebook page! I’m going to sign them, too, so you get to see my pretty scrawl. How do you enter? Simply Like and Comment on this pinned post about who your favorite scifi protagonist is! I did something similar with Finding Hekate and folks really loved it, so I’m hoping my readers like this opportunity, too!

Here are the official specs.

Rules/Eligibility Requirements:
– To Enter: Like and Comment about who your favorite scifi protagonist is
– Giveaway starts on May 16th and ends on May 30th, midnight PST
– US participants only, no international fans (sorry!)
– Adults only (18+)
– SIX winners will be randomly drawn from the entries and announced on May 31st
– No purchase necessary, but feel free to share if you’d like!

About The Book You Could Win:

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In this sequel to Finding Hekate and after escaping Donavin’s grasp, Mia Foley and her crew crash on a prison planet and need to deal with its inhabitants, beast and criminals alike. Mia hears Donavin in her mind once 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—on Cassidy—to save her. But she’s not the only one transforming in her little group, and things never go as smoothly as they could out in the black.

So go like and comment today! It’s super easy, and you could win a free book!

I hope you have a lovely Saturday.
Until next time,
Kellie

Inspiration: Where Do Stories Come From?

Stories. Where do they come from? What is that one spark that makes you traverse the long, windy road that is a completed story, whether it’s a poem, flash fiction, short fiction, or series of novels? That idea has to come from somewhere, right? It’s a question that authors get all the time during interviews and to be completely honest, that one “aha” moment can come from anything, anywhere, anytime.

Sometimes it’s a location that jogs the creativity. Or that couple walking down the street hand-in-hand. Sometimes it’s as simple as a sense-memory from your childhood or a dream or another book. Sometimes you have a really great one-liner that you just can’t stop thinking about. Sometimes—like in the case for Suzanne Collins—it came come from simply flipping through TV channels. Sometimes—like in the case for J.K. Rowling—a fully fleshed character walks into your mind like they’ve been there for years.

So, really, that spark of inspiration can come from anything, anywhere, anytime, and that’s the excitement of being a writer. You never know when an idea will smack you across the face and demand you pay attention. It can be the littlest of things that makes your creativity churn.

Case in point, here’s where the spark for the entire Cicatrix Duology came from. I had a short story due for my undergraduate writing club and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what to write about. Completely stumped. Then, these three simple lines popped into my head:

“We have come to collect you, Mia.” Her left hand twitched. “We have come.”

That’s it. Not the scifi aspect. Not the plotline. Not even Mia herself. Just those three little lines. But those were enough to spiral my creativity into overdrive and start asking questions. Who wanted her? What’s with her left hand? How long had she been running? Why was she running? After that, the scifi aspect clicked into place, then the scar, then the character, then…well…everything else.

So here’s a little tip: Pay Attention. Write those things down. Even if you can’t get to the idea right now, put it in a ToWrite folder and save it for later. You never know when you’ll want to come back to it.

If you’d like to read the Cicatrix Duology, you can get Finding Hekate here and the (newly published!!) Losing Hold here.

Until next time!
Warm regards,
Kellie

Happy Launch Day for LOSING HOLD

It’s out! Losing Hold is out! *does a little dance* It’s been launched into the world, and I hope people enjoy it. I so, so, so, so look forward to reading what folks have to say!

Here are some things about the book, in case you didn’t know:

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What It’s About:
In the sequel to Finding Hekate, after escaping Donavin’s grasp, Mia Foley and her crew crash on a prison planet and need to deal with its inhabitants, beast and criminals alike. Mia hears Donavin in her mind once 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—on Cassidy—to save her. But she’s not the only one transforming in her little group, and things never go as smoothly as they could out in the black.

What Folks Are Saying About It:

“I have to admit I kept forgetting I was reading it for a purpose, and kept getting lost in the words—in a good way! It flows well, I don’t have any lingering questions (other than wondering how I can live in your mind—I want to hang out with Mia and Cassidy now!), and it fits nicely after the first one.” ~ Becky Wright, beta reader

Where You Can Buy It:
Amazon: Digital and Print
Createspace: Print
Smashwords: Digital
You’ll soon be able to get it through Bella Books, too!

Celebration!
I can’t believe Losing Hold is out. It’s the completion of the duology, the wrap-up of Mia and Cassidy’s story, the end of this grand adventure! It’s a pretty big deal. So, in celebration of the book release, I’ve decided to make myself a lovely dinner of baked salmon, veggies, and a glass of wine. Plus cookies for dessert! It’s going to be a yummy night indeed.

I’m off to start cooking! If you have any questions about the book, please do let me know in the comments! And, if you buy my book, I hope you enjoy the adventure! (I certainly did.)
Until next time,
Kellie

 

How The Heck Do You Name Your MC?

So, you have a great story. A plot that’ll throw readers out of their seats. A main set of characters that are relatable and funny and unique. A twisted villain that straddles the line between true darkness and having a reason why they’re doing their evil deeds. You might even have a title for this masterpiece. But then you stop and realize: you don’t have a name for your main characters. What are you supposed to call them? What name would hold the mantle of the story? What should the minor characters shout as they claim victory?

Some authors have no issues finding the right name for their characters. Some authors spend days or months trying to find the right one. I belong in the “days or months” category. It takes me ages to figure out a name that I like, but because of that I’ve developed a set of tools that helps me. Maybe you could use those tools, too? Here are three ways I discover my character names like the ones in my Cicatrix Duology:

Try To Determine What They Represent In The Story
This is an old technique but I use it all the freaking time. Is your character brave? Strong? Shifty? Honorable? Scary, maybe? I used this for both my Across the Stars business owner Cassidy Gates and the big baddies Acedians (not a single character but are important enough they are a single big-bad entity). I knew Cassidy would be smart and independent and more clever than Mia, she’d be able to see through Mia’s ruse in a way no one else could, so I researched those traits and found her name. For the Acedians, I wanted to reflect their last stage, where the human part of them is taken away and they’re basically a shell for Donavin’s use. Adecia means “apathetic” and worked perfectly.

Pick Them Because Of An Inside Joke
Now don’t walk away from this or scoff. It’s a weird way of thinking, but my spaceship captain Mia Foley falls into this category. I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to name her, and originally it had been Maria but then I kept on thinking of the song from Sound of Music and kept humming “How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria” in my head whenever her name came up. (Spoiler: In the two books, her name comes up a lot.) It wasn’t working out. So I thought about her story, about her past, her capture, her running, her always trying to stay one step ahead. And then it hit me, she literally tried to be M.I.A. (missing in action) after blowing up every ship. I realize it’s not the standard military way of using it (where it explains a missing person after a battle) but she tried to disappear. It made me chuckle and when I wrote her name in the story, it just worked.

Try One Of Those Name Generators
I really enjoy combing through the random name generators to find unique names for my characters – like Nin, who you’ll meet in Losing Hold. I never use the actual names that pop up but I like combining certain vowel sounds I see and figure out if it works, especially for last names or fantasy names.

Those are my tricks of the trade. What are some of yours? Leave a comment!

Hope you’re having a lovely Easter (if you celebrate) and a lovely Sunday (if you don’t)!
Warm regards,
Kellie

Join Me For #SciFiCircle!

Hello fellow nerds,

I’ve been wanting to do a Twitter hashtag game for a while now, ever since I found out that it was a thing last year. It’s such a cool idea, bringing fellow creatives together to celebrate something (writing, fandoms, events, etc.) so I decided to start one too!

In honor of my book Losing Hold coming out in April, I’m hosting a #SciFiCircle hashtag game on Twitter, starting tomorrow and going through the entire month!

There will be one question per day, posted from my Twitter account @Kellie_Doherty between 9–10am PST. Folks who want to join in can answer the questions (using the hashtag) and hopefully connect with other science fiction lovers. I’ll be answering the questions, too!

Here’s a little preview of the questions:
What’s your favorite classic science fiction book?
What’s your favorite recent scifi book?
Who’s your favorite scifi character?
Who’s your favorite scifi villain?

I’m excited to start this game and I look forward to connecting with other scifi lovers!

If you’re on Twitter and you enjoy science fiction, you should join in!
Warm regards,
Kellie

Losing Hold Cover Reveal!

Hey everyone! I’ll be hosting a live Facebook Event this Friday to reveal the cover of Losing Hold! I’m pretty psyched about the artwork—spoiler alert: it’s gorgeous—and in order to celebrate I decided to do something a little different and try a live Facebook Event!

What does that mean?
Well, Friday between 7-8pm (PST) I’ll be on my Facebook Event page posting things like what Losing Hold is about and the inspiration for the story, hosting a Q&A session with giveaways (that’s right, free stuff!), and of course, revealing the cover! Basically it’ll be a chance to ask me some questions and be entered to win one of the four giveaways prizes! Speaking of…

What are the Giveaway Prizes?
I’m going to give away two signed copies of Finding Hekate and two 30-page edits from Edit Revise Perfect. I’ll be picking four participants from Q&A at random to win the prizes, so be sure to ask a question to enter!

Here are the specifics one more time!
Friday, February 24th
7-8pm (PST)
On this Cover Reveal Facebook Event Page (be sure to select “Going” to get the notifications!)

I hope to see you there! *waves*
Warm regards,
Kellie

Ten Writing Tips

Writing can sometimes be hard. Here are some of my favorite writing tips to make it easier:

1)  Give yourself treats for writing something. (I know, I know, it’s like kindergarten all over again. Do something good? Get a little gold star on the corner of your paper!) But sometimes motivation is hard to come by and little treats (like a new pen, a new notebook, a new character sheet, or let’s face it, that new show you’ve been dying to watch) can make it easier to actually sit your butt down and write.

2) You don’t have to write linearly. Some writers swear by writing linearly; they write out a huge outline and just plow on through it. And that does work for some authors, but certainly not for all of them. Feel free to skip around. If you’re stuck on a particular scene or chapter, leave that and go to a different section. You might find that writing out an entirely different scene helps you finish the sticky one.

3) J.K. Rowling once said, “Sometimes you have to get your writing done in spare moments here and there.” We tend to think writers spend all day writing their lovely prose and intense characters, but honestly, we all have other things to do like juggling full-time work, friends, and chores. Find spare moments to write, even if it’s just ten or fifteen minute pockets throughout the day to write down a character trait, an idea for a specific scene, or that specific scene itself.

4) Always carry a spare notebook. No, seriously, always have another one somewhere because when you lose your trusted red notebook that says Keep Calm and Carry On you’ll be super upset. (I know this from experience.)

5) Don’t shy away from painful scenes. Emotional, psychological, physical. Any of kind pain. They can be a bear to write, but they can be vastly important to growing a character. I had some scenes in Finding Hekate that were really hard to write, especially the flashbacks, but I knew it would deepen her story.

6) Have a dedicated writing time or place. When you’re there, block everything else out and write. This is your craft and like any other artist, you need time to do your work.

7) Look around you for inspiration. Seriously, see that random person drinking coffee? They could be your next character. Remember that one guy who always sits in the corner of the library? Use that mindset to create a mysterious background. Those flowers you saw on the way to work? Craft a new flora in your world. Inspiration is everywhere. Dialogue, setting, plots, and characters are all around you, so if you’re stuck in some anti-writing mud, look around and listen.

8) Set a goal for yourself. Even if it’s just 200 words per day, set it and keep it. Even if they’re a crappy 200 words. Even if you won’t use them, write them anyway. Once you start writing regularly, like any habit, you’ll want to continue writing.

9) Neil Gaiman once said, “The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.” It’s true! Write your story the best way you can, in whatever form you can, on whatever subject matter you can. It’s your story, no one can tell it better than you.

10) Stop using little words such as very, really, just, and that. They’re useless modifiers that bulk out your word count when you don’t need them to. Here’s an example of how you can remove “very” from a sentence. Instead of writing “She ran very quickly to Sarah’s side.” write “She rushed to Sarah’s side.” Doing so will tighten your work.

What are some of your favorite writing tips? I’d love to know in the comments!

I hope you’re having a lovely Friday! Stay safe out there.
Warm regards,
Kellie

Sci-fi Romance Sweepstakes!

Attention science fiction nerds!!

Sci-Fi-Doherty-Kellie.pngDo you like reading science fiction with a dash of romance thrown in? Well, if so, I have a fun surprise that I’d like to share with you. (If not, the holidays are just around the corner and if you win, you’d have your presents already done!)

To celebrate the end of fall, I’ve teamed up with more than 60 lovely science fiction romance authors to give away a huge collection of novels, PLUS a Kindle Fire to one lucky winner!

You can win my novel FINDING HEKATE, plus books from authors like Sharon Lynn Fisher and Veronica Scott.

Enter the giveaway by clicking here: bit.ly/sci-fi-rom

Good luck!
Warm regards,
Kellie

#FavoriteSciFiStory – Last Day To Enter!

Hey guys!

I’m doing a bunch of social media giveaways—one on Instagram, one on Twitter, and one on Facebook—for free signed copies of Finding Hekate, three total. I wanted to share the love of science fiction by having this giveaway feature the hashtag #FavoriteSciFiStory.

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There’s only one day left to enter, so do it soon! Here are some specific information about how to enter for each platform as well as a link:

Twitter – Tweet what your favorite science fiction story is and why, use the hashtag #FavoriteSciFiStory, and tag me at @Kellie_Doherty.

Facebook – Like and Comment on the #FavoriteSciFiStory post about what your favorite science fiction story is and why.

Instagram – Like and Comment on the #FavoriteSciFiStory post about what your favorite science fiction story is and why.

Sooooo….go do it right now! The contest ends at midnight today, and I’ll pick the winners and announce them tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon. I look forward to reading the responses and sharing the love of science fiction with everyone!

I hope you have a fabulous Saturday!
Warm regards,
Kellie