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
nian.jpg

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

 

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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!

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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

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

A Wild Sunday Night Post Appears: Writing Tips

Evening, fellow writers and creatives and nerds of all kinds!

I’ve collected some writing tips over the last couple of months…wait, last year. (Good grief, it’s so crazy that it’s January 2019.) Anyway, I thought these tips were fun and helpful, so I hope you do, too!

  • Setting is a powerful tool. It can set the mood (think dark and stormy vs. sunny and bright) and look different for each character’s POV (a character might LOVE rain, when another one hates it…they’d view a storm very differently). Play with this idea in your work.
  • Pace yourself. Writing, whether you’re penning a paper or a poem or a novel, isn’t a race. Take your time to really craft your words, to find your voice, to discover your characters or setting or plotline. Don’t worry; you’ve got this!
  • Try something different to foster creativity. Write while standing up. Go for a walk meaning to get lost. Try writing a different time of day. Listen to some music.
  • Pick a goal for each session. This could be as long as an entire paragraph or as short as a single sentence, but picking a goal and sticking with it will help you feel productive and fuel your creativity. Make sure it’s achievable, though!
  • Finally, this piece of advice has been said by many but still rings true: Don’t take any writing advice too seriously. Seriously! If someone’s words of wisdom sparks something in you, great! But don’t feel discouraged if their advice doesn’t particularly resonate. There are so many ways to write. Remember that you can form your own ways, too.

Do you have any writing advice? Leave a comment!

I hope you have a wonderful week!
Warm regards,
Kellie

Life (as it) Happens

In undergrad, I spent one semester at the University of Missoula, MT. I took the usual classwork for an English Lit major, including a creative writing poetry course, but had also decided to take a criminology class on a whim. (Why not, right?) The criminology class turned out to be one of my favorite classes. It was interesting to learn about the “why” behind the crimes, and the coursework inspired the poem I titled The Criminality of Love. I had gotten the prompt “love” from our professor and didn’t know what to write, but the night before the love poem was due, I got the idea for The Criminality of Love. It was a middle-of-the-night, words-pouring-out-like-water kind of idea that happened in 30 minutes, chock full of all the criminality jargon I learned in class. (I also accidentally knocked over a can of soda when I showed the poem to one of my roommates. Oops.) I really loved how that poem turned out, and since then, I’ve been looking for a good place for it.

The perfect place turned up over six years later.

I’ve followed the Vlogbrothers – Hank and John Green – for years, so when the first ever Nerdfighter Poetry Book was accepting submissions, I knew I had to try for it. Plus, they announced that all the proceeds would go to the Foundation to Decrease World Suck, which was a great cause. (More on that later.) I decided to submit my criminology poem and it got accepted!

*does a little dance*

So here’s where the announcement portion of my blogpost comes into play:

The Nerdfighter Poetry Book, titled Life (as it) Happens, launched just last week! JUST LAST WEEK. Go check it out!

Poetry is a lovely form of expression, and I’m honored my late night, criminality inspired jargon-filled poem is among them. So, do need a cool gift for a poetry lover? Consider Life (as it) Happens and help support other non-profits while you do.

Oh! And here’s some information about the Foundation to Decrease World Suck, according to their website:

“The Foundation to Decrease World Suck, Inc is 100% volunteer operated and exists solely for the purpose of raising funds to be donated to other non-profit organizations. The majority of fundraising is through and during the annual Project for Awesome. The small operating expenses of the Foundation, including tax return preparation, are paid for by donations to the Foundation by the Directors of the Foundation. Money donated to the Foundation to Decrease World Suck will be distributed to non-profits selected by Nerdfighteria and the YouTube Community through the Project for Awesome.”

Okay, that’s it for me right now. Have a lovely Sunday!
Warm regards,
Kellie

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