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

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

#IndieAuthorDay

Today is #IndieAuthorDay. It’s a day where publishing professionals (writers, agents, librarians, etc.) gather together and celebrate independent authors. It’s a day where folks talk about the hardships and successes of being an independent author. It’s a day that shines a light on them and their community, while also celebrating local libraries in North America.

And it’s a day that I didn’t hear about until today.

Granted it’s brand new (today was the inaugural launch) and I’ve admittedly been entrenched in following the political pulse of the nation this past week instead of the writing pulse (which is a fault of my own).

But I’m a bit sad that I didn’t hear about it until today.

I would’ve wanted to join in on this celebration and conversation. And I did, a little bit. While I missed the local event here at the Portland library, I was able to catch the presentations on YouTube and retweet some key messages from others. And there’s always next year! (On that note: Mark Oct. 8th on your writing calendar, guys, because its something we should all celebrate!)

It seems like a great idea, though, and with all the other stuff happening in the world right now (and not just political stuff, but also Hurricane Matthew and various amazing cons that I’m currently not at), I’m happy to have heard about it at all. It appears like the inaugural event was a success, too, which is awesome, and I’m quite glad it was trending on Twitter so I can take part in it, in my own small way. (Social media connectivity, FTW!)

Good luck, indie authors, and keep on writing!
Warm regards,
Kellie

A Random Monday Post Appears

In which I let you know that I updated a bunch of things on this blog!

I’m going to put it as a list, because that makes me feel better:

  • Updated the About section a bit to include a link to my website and such
  • Updated my Editing Services section
  • Added a BRAND NEW Books section
  • Added some more poetry to my Poetry section in honor of National Poetry Month
  • Added more links to the Non-Fiction section
  • I also changed the menu header around a little bit

Go check them out and let me know what you think!

Now, I must work on my graduate thesis. Wish me luck.
Warm regards,
Kellie

OMG EVERYTHING IS DUE ON FRIDAY

Not really. Just one major deadline is fast approaching on Friday. One of two major deadlines in my graduate program at Portland State University concerning actually graduating from this program. What is this major deadline? Well, it’s twofold: 1) the professional portfolio in the form of a website to my grad committee, and 2) the final grad research thesis question.

I’m pretty much freaking out on all cylinders. The professional website is live, but I keep fiddling with it, adding and deleting things. You can see it here. I’m pretty happy with how it’s turned out for now. For tonight. I’ll look at it again tomorrow and see how I feel. (Blerg.) I plan on turning it in first thing Friday morning.

As for the thesis question, I like the one I have about #WeNeedDiverseBooks, but getting the information is proving more difficult that I originally thought. If I ever write a research paper again, I won’t rely on interviews for most of my info. (ProTip: Don’t do that. Alternatively, if you do need to rely on interviews, do it way in advance.) I’m in a holding pattern to see if anyone gets back to me so I can add them to the question before turning it in.

All the things are due on Friday by 5pm. ALL THE THINGS! And this is just one of the two major deadlines, the next one happens when I turn in the final research paper at the end of the sixth or seventh week. (You can tell I’m only really focused on this one.)

In significantly less stressful news, my science fiction book—Finding Hekate—was published last Friday by Desert Palm Press! You can find it in numerous places, like here and here and here. It’s about a spaceship captain who’s being hunted and has to make a choice: kill her crew and run like she’s done many times before or stick with her crew and fight. The problem is, her time as herself is running out. It’s mostly an action story from the POV of a badass anti-hero of sorts, but there is some lesbian romance tucked away in between those pages. (I’ll do another post later talking about the process in more detail.) If you like it, leave a review and let me know! I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Okay, I have to work on more grad prep stuff now.
Because everything’s due on Friday.

Have a lovely rest of the week guys, and if you have anything due really soon, good luck!
Warm regards,
Kellie

What To Make For Dinner: A Writer’s Late-Night Quandary

It’s happened again. Like so many times before, I got caught up in writing a scene, or a page, or a chapter, that I neglected the time and when I finally looked up from my Word document it’s 9:50pm. Way past dinnertime. So, what’s a writer to make? Here are my quick and easy top five dishes to prepare when in a late-night quandary:

*note: these dishes aren’t sanctioned by any nutritionist. They are merely what I gravitate toward.

  1. Pasta – Yes, pasta, it’s fast and simple, throw a pot of water on the stove, wait a few minutes for it to boil, then throw the pasta in. I like mine plain with butter or olive oil, some herbs, and parmesan. But if you like sauce, just throw some in a pan and call it good. Quick & Easy Score: 8
  2. Leftovers – Just like the pasta, only with less variety because you probably had this for dinner the night before, just throw the leftovers in a pan (or in the microwave if you’ve got one) and heat that sucker up. Quick & Easy Score: 9
  3. Frozen Veggies – Don’t knock it till you try it. I’ve had many a night where it was too late to even heat things up and I just go ahead and eat the veggies frozen. I like the broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower mixture. (I’m not weird…you’re weird!) Quick & Easy Score: 10
  4. Baked Potato – Okay, so this one may seem weird for a late night, but think of it this way. The time it takes you to actually bake the potato (for me that’s between 20-50 minutes depending on how I prepare it) can be used to finishing up that scene! I like my potatoes to be the sweet variety, but any type of potato will do. Quick & Easy Score: 7
  5. Cookies – When the time ticks past ten or eleven, I just call off the dinner plans and go straight for dessert. Sure, I’ll be super hungry in the morning but I also don’t want to eat too much late at night. Bonus points if you have milk to go with it! (I’m sure you could substitute cookies with, say, an apple or some other fruit and some peanut butter—and sometimes I do!—but I have a real hankering for a cookie right now.) Quick & Easy Score: 10

So there you have it. Five quick and easy dinners for your late-night quandary after a long evening of writing. Sometimes time gets away from you, but your eating habits don’t have to suffer. (Much!)

What are some things you like to eat after your writing consumes you?
Warm regards,
Kellie

April 8th

Finding Hekate, my science fiction book, will be set into the wild on April 8th. NEXT MONTH! I had a lovely chat with my publisher about the logistics of things on Wednesday night and we went over a bunch of marketing ideas I brainstormed. Since Desert Palm Press is a small publisher, I will be doing 90% of the marketing ideas I thought up. Authors are the Number One Champion of their book, though, so I’m more than happy to do it! Plus, this allows me to utilize the skills I’ve learned in my book publishing classes in the real world. (I admit, it’s different doing these things as an author rather than a publisher, but quite a few things transfer over.)

I’ve included my plan of attack for the next few weeks:
March Week 13th-19th
Content Creation Phase

  • Social Media posts: Continuing the awareness posts, generating more, while also crafting ones to post during the launch phase
  • Media Artifacts: Creating new ones, based on images or quotes from the manuscript, continuing to post the ones I created already
  • Press Release
  • Cool interesting ideas I could guest blog about

Writing Drafts (of Letters and stuff)

  • Pitch letters to influencers: Including Facebook/Twitter posts they could share/repost, tiers of engagement
  • Pitch letters to request interviews/articles
  • Pitch letters to request a spot in newsletters: Accompanying newsletter blurb they can just cut/paste into their own
  • (Do the work for them for influencers and newsletter peeps!)

Finishing Up The Manuscript – One Last Pass

  • My publisher will get the manuscript to me on Monday, I have to go through it and double/triple check the edits
  • Due back Friday at the latest
  • Will try to get through it quickly so the proofreaders have more time with it

Wonder About a Launch

  • Should I do a book launch or gathering? If so, where? If so, how?
  • If yes: Order more paper books.

Print Bookmarks

  • PRINT THESE!

March Week 20th-26th
Social Media Posts

  • Continue posting things on social media relating to or about the manuscript
    • Including media artifacts!

Guest Blog

  • Approach bloggers to see if I can guest blog

Interviews/Articles

  • Approach scifi and LGBT sites to see if they’d like to do an interview or article about me

Refine Drafts

  • all the things written last week (letters and such)

Newsletter

  • Write the draft for my first newsletter
  • Post about it on social media sites (“If you want to know more, sign up!”)

March Week 27th-2nd

Continue:

  • Social Media Posts
  • Guest Blogs (followup, writing them)
  • Interviews/Articles (followup)
  • Newsletters burst (followup)

Refine Newsletter, Gain More People

  • Wanna know more? Check out my newsletter!
  • Or something like that

AWP

  • Go to AWP for Ooligan Press stuff
  • Also promote myself!

April Week 3rd-9th

Continue:

  • Social Media Posts
  • Guest Blogs (any other opportunities)

Send first newsletter

  • Yay!
  • My book!
  • Other cool space things.

Send influencer emails

  • Send pitch letter and tweet/FB post
  • Make sure the posts have a link to buy!
    • will I have the link by then?
    • If not, move this to Week 10th-16th

April 8th 

  • Celebrate!
  • Update website with real date/link to buy!

April Week 10th-16th

Launch? Reading? Gathering?

  • If I am doing this, this is the week I’d probably get it done.

Send influencer emails (for sure)

  • Link to buy!

 

So, yeah, this is my plan of attack for the next few weeks concerning Finding Hekate. I have so much to do, but I have to remind myself to stop and enjoy this process, too. I tend to get single-minded when my ToDo list is in front of me, but this is a huge deal for me – a dream come true! – and I have to sit with it for a bit, process it, and celebrate.

What kinds of things did you do when your book was published? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time!
Warm regards,
Kellie

 

A Reflection

We just had our button making party for Write to Publish 2016 and that got me thinking. It’s amazing how much things can change in a year. Last year, when we did the same thing for Write to Publish 2015, Brandon and Melanie were the managers and I, a team member. I wasn’t stressed about Write to Publish back then. Sure, the conference was happening, but I had my task for the day of and that was good. Life was simpler.

Now? Well, it’s a bit more complicated. We had the button making party, sure. But this time I’m a manager alongside Chelsea. It’s a bit more stressful, and we don’t really have one task during Write to Publish…unless you consider “make sure everything goes according to plan” one thing. It seems like more is on the line this time around, probably because Chels and I have been planning it since last year and we want it to go well. I’m hopeful that it will.

And this time next year? Well, I don’t know what I’ll be doing. I’ll be graduated—*knocks on wood*—and I’ll have a job—*knocks on wood harder*—and maybe I’ll even be living somewhere else. I don’t know what’s going to happen. But I know it’ll be changed, again. I know it’ll be different. And I know I’ll be able to handle it.

For now, I need to be focused on Write to Publish 2016. It’s coming up fast, only five days away. I’m both excited and nervous about it. It’s also pretty freaking crazy. I’ve been looking forward to this day since March 2015 and now it’s here! I really, really hope it goes over well. Wish me luck!

And if any of you are in the Portland area and want to know learn more about the publishing process and network with like-minded individuals, check out the program and get your ticket today! There’s a pretty cool Pitch to a Professional opportunity that quite a few writers are excited about.

Now, time to go have another cup of tea and try not to be overwhelmed by everything.

Question: What do you do to quench the nerves? Leave your answer the in comments!

Warm regards,
Kellie

Writer vs. Editor

So, as some of you know, Desert Palm Press signed me up as an author. I couldn’t be happier. It’s been one of my dreams to get published, and I’m so grateful it’s happening.

One of the things I’m really looking forward to, however, is the journey*.

The journey will be…interesting.

As all of you know by now, I’m an editor. I have my own freelance company, and it’s something I’m specializing in at Portland State University’s graduate program.

But both writing and editing are two facets of my professional life. To be fair, I started writing earlier, but really, editing will probably pay the bills later on in life.

Anyway, inspired by Indigo Editing book designer and publications consultant Vinnie Kinsella’s post, I figured it might be fun to do a back and forth of what a writer would say and what an editor would say.

(And, yes, I’ve thought all of these things at some point in both my writing and editing careers.)

Writer: I’ve worked hard to pick the perfect title for this manuscript. It’s a real eye-catcher and reflects what I want the reader to understand about my story.
Editor: Does the title reflect what’s inside or give too much of something away? Is it too long? Too short? Are there any other titles out there like this one? I need to do some research.

Writer: I’ve slaved over every word of this manuscript, and it’s perfection.
Editor: It’s not perfect. There are thousands of words in this book and chances are there will be some misspellings, misplaced commas, dangling participles, and characters whose hair changes color half way through.

Writer: I’ve edited this draft a few times all ready, why do I need to look at it again? It takes such a long time finish this.
Editor: There are many stages of editing. Developmental. Copyediting. Proofreading. All of these stages help make the work perfect and all of the stages are necessary. Yes, it might take a while, but it’s worth it.

Writer: That time/place/character description isn’t important. I should just move onto the next scene.
Editor: The readers can’t see inside your head. We need those descriptions in order to ground the reader in your world.

Writer: I’m breaking the rules in order to create this really cool sentence structure/paragraph style/grammar thing. The readers will love it!
Editor: I need to make sure that rule-breaking sentence structure/paragraph style/grammar thing is consistent throughout the entire novel. The readers will need that consistency.

Writer: I need to write everything down, everything is necessary, and everything is needed. The readers will want everything, even the tangents.
Editor: I need to cut some of this for clarity, especially the tangents that don’t belong in the novel. The readers will thank me for this.

Writer: This minor character is totally relevant. It’s my baby.
Editor: This minor character has nothing to do with the plotline. We have to cut them. Or figure out a way to incorporate them more.

Writer: I can’t wait to see this in print/ebook/audiobook!
Editor: I can’t wait to send this through up through the chain of publishing and then see this in print/ebook/audiobook!

We’re both going for the same thing—a polished story—but we see it in very different ways.

And with this journey, I’m not going to be on the editing side of things, a side I’m used to being on and have been on for quite some time now, I’m going to be on the writing side of it. I’m going to be the Writer on this equation.

It’s going to be a wild ride.

Warm regards,
Kellie

*Aside from holding a physical copy of a book I wrote in my hands, of course. What? I’m old school.