Mythological Beasts for Friday the 13th

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

Here are my favorites thus far.

Enenra

enenra

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

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

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

Qalupalik
qalupalik-concept-art

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

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

Nian
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
Wendigo1-211x300.jpg

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

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

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

Grootslang
groot.jpg

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

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

<>

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

 

Advertisements

Book Reviews

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

But why?

Here’s a quick list for you!

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

What kinds of reviews are the best?

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

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

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

SFST-cover-final-web-optimized

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

 

 

Life and Other Things

{A wild Wednesday post appears!}

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

Here are photos as proof:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Say What? A Sunkissed Feathers Pronunciation Guide.

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

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

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

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

Happy Saturday, everyone!
Warm regards,
Kellie

Event Planning? Here Are Some Tips.

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

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

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

Creating Dylori – the Ultimate Hero Type

Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties has been out for nearly three weeks! (Yayyyy!) I’ve been getting some lovely reviews and doing all kinds of interviews, which has been really fun. I just got some paperback copies in the mail YESTERDAY, so I’d like to host a book celebration of sorts when my parents get back from their vacation.

I’ve noticed a trend in a lot of the reviews, though, that I’d like to chat about today. My readers really like Dylori, one of the women who joins Misti on her quest to get the pendant off her neck.

Aesthetic_Dylori

No, scratch that, my readers freaking LOVE Dylori.

And I get it! She’s a badass. She’s smart, confident, strong; her crafting is amaaaaaaazing and her companion animal is probably over-powered. She’s a great fighter and a rank above Misti in the Moon Knights. On top of all that, Dylori also has a fun history and an interesting arc in the story. She has many layers to her, and she was hella fun to write.

Compared to Misti, Dylori is what I would call the Ultimate Hero Type. In fact, Dylori even saves Misti throughout their adventures more than once. In Misti’s eyes she IS a hero, her hero.

And that’s what it boils down to—Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties is told through Misti’s eyes, her point of view. I wrote Dylori to be a badass and to be the hero type because quite frankly, Misti sees her that way. She sees Dylori as the shining example of how a Moon Knight is supposed to behave and Misti’s striving to reach those same heights. Misti is trying to be the Ultimate Hero Type, too, but for better or for worse, she doesn’t reach those heights by using Dylori’s methods. (Spoiler: It’s for the better. Kind-of.)

But there are some negative aspects of Dylori that Misti conveniently…glosses over. Dylori is reckless. Headstrong. She rushes into battle without thinking, and Misti is never surprised by it. Those traits aren’t necessarily the best for the Ultimate Hero Type, but because we’re in Misti’s mind and she thinks Dylori is a hero, we see those traits through rose-colored glasses. We see Dylori using those unlikeable behaviors admirably.

And thus far, my readers have enjoyed it! So yeah, I completely understand why folks are falling in love with Dylori.

I just hope my attempt to make Dylori awesome doesn’t overshadow how amazing Misti is.

If you want to explore more of Misti and Dylori’s dynamic, you should check out Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties for yourself! Get your copy on Desert Palm Press’s website, Amazon (ebook and paperback), and Smashwords, B&N, Bella Books, and soon in select bookstores in Alaska!SFST-cover-final-web-optimized

Thoughts? What would you do if readers really loved a character other than your main character?

Happy Wednesday!
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!

IMG_1075

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

On Terrible Writing Advice

I’ve been a writer for a while now, ever since I was a young teen penning Digimon fanfiction. (Yeah, you read that right. Remember Renamon? She was freaking amazing.) I’ve been in numerous writing classes, conferences, groups, and forums, and I’ve gotten some amazing writing advice over the years.

But I’ve also heard some terrible advice.

Here are my top three favorites:

Don’t use contractions.
Yup, I heard that one in a writing group I tried out in college (and soon discovered it wasn’t the best fit). I don’t remember the “why” behind the advice, but I probably just burned it from my mind because OF COURSE YOU SHOULD USE CONTRACTIONS IN YOUR WORK. Characters speak differently, and if all of your characters spoke without contractions they would sound similar and also very effing formal. It’s okay to use that kind of language for a certain character or maybe even a certain race…but it’s also okay to use contractions. People use them all the time, so your characters should, too.

Don’t use “said.” OR Use more exciting dialogue tags.
On one hand, yeah, I kind of get where this advice was coming from. Using tags can get cumbersome, especially if you’re able to write the character actions following the dialogue.

Example: “I know, okay?” Mary said, angrily. VS “I know, okay?” Mary stormed off and slammed the door behind her.

But on the other, “said” is pretty much invisible to the reader, so if you must use dialogue tags, it’s better to use “said” rather than “growled.”

(Note: I am actually kind of terrible at following my own advice, as my copyediting of Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties showed me. My publisher constantly axed dialogue tags in favor of the actions that I had already written into the scene. We can’t all be perfect, you know?)

Don’t describe the setting too much.
This one always makes me laugh. Again, on one hand, okay, yeah there is the case that being overly descriptive can drag the story down…but on the other, the readers need to know the setting! And the setting doesn’t have to be static, either. (And shouldn’t be.) Good writers use the setting to add another dimension to the story and in order to do that the readers have to “see” that setting, too.

One of my other favorites that tends to get tucked into this one is don’t start with the weather. What if the character is trapped in a snowstorm? You start with the snowstorm, of course! Weather can set the mood faster than even characters can, so use it to your advantage!

So there you go, my top three favorite pieces of terrible writing advice. What are some of yours?

Happy Saturday!
Warm regards,
Kellie

P.S. – If you liked this, check out my website, Facebook Author page, and Twitter accounts! And if you’d like to read about a spaceship captain who’s being hunted by a band of murderers and has to make a choice between herself and her crew, check out Finding Hekate! (You can also find it at B&N, Amazon, and Smashwords.)

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

Orange Extravaganza!

Happy 2019! I hope the first day of the New Year is starting off well. Mine started off with a crash as one of out cats got spooked from the nearby fireworks and accidentally knocked over a full mug of hot buttered rum. We cleaned it, of course, but the rug soaked some up and our dog is having a field day “sneakily” licking it. Ahh, never a dull moment. Anyway, the new year generally means new resolutions and new things!

New Resolution!
Write more. Literally, that’s all. Carving out time to write has actually been a challenge for me lately since I’ve been more focused on my Sunkissed Feathers launch, freelance editing, and my day-job. But I have to make it a priority to write, and I will.

New Things!
It’s January 2019, which means my book comes out soon (we’re shooting for the end of the month) and I want to celebrate this WHOLE MONTH a little differently. Over on my Instagram I’m going to post one orange-themed picture a day for this entire month. At the end of each week, I’ll condense them into one (or two?) graphics and post it on my Twitter and Facebook Author pages Why am I postings orange-themed photos? Well, you all know I love orange…but here’s the real reason:

My main character, Misti, is a Vagari and Vagari crafting (magic) shows up as a deep orange color. To honor that Vagari crafting and Misti AND my new book, I figured posting orange-themed photos would be a cool idea.

I’ve already posted today’s so keep an eye on my Instagram if you want to see more!

What are some of your new year’s resolutions or new things?

I hope you have a fabulous start of the new year!
Warm regards,
Kellie