A Sprig of Rosemary

So, originally this blogpost was going to be about how I didn’t have any inspiration for my second fantasy novel. How the first one seemed to flow much easier than this one and how the plotpoints I created made sense. How I was so stuck on this second book that I was going to do something else for a while (even though I used that excuse before concerning this WIP). How I was just so freaking disappointed in myself for not figuring things out in my fantasy world, for letting my writing self down, for not being creative enough.

That was what my blogpost was going to be about.

And then something amazing happened. I opened up my documents, turned on some Lord of the Rings music, and just stared at the words for a little while. Stared at the my confused words like: “Plot?” and “What is her motivation??” and “Character arc???” All questions and no answers, the tiny red ellipses beaming like shameful reminders of my lack of my creativity. I just…stared. And wondered. And listened to the Lord of the Rings fantasy music swell and ebb. I thought about my main character and the world I had created and the magic I wanted to explore and the darker side of the realm. I thought about my first fantasy book still at the beta readers and wondered if they’d like it or if I’d have to scrap something I loved. I wondered about the ties from that book and into this one, how corrupted versions of the crafting abilities could become and how I wanted to showcase another version of that in this book. I just took some time, sitting in front of my WIP fantasy brainstorming documents and listening to LOTRs, really contemplating my manuscript and what I wanted this story to be about.

And then, seemingly out of nowhere, an idea came into my mind. It’s not a fully fleshed out idea. It’s not the entire plot of my manuscript. It’s not “everything.”

It’s actually kind of a small idea, now that I think about it…a sprig of a larger branch of a larger plant. A sprig of rosemary, perhaps, that I can offer to my creative muse.

But it’s something. Something to build off of. Something to be excited about. And something that ties in my MCs motivations, the corrupted version of magic I wanted to explore, and an interesting plotpoint to weave throughout the story.

It’s something. And my advice to anyone else struggling to write, doubting their creative muse, doubting their writing?

Don’t force it. Whenever I would sit down to write, I’d think, Okay, Doherty, time to do this. Time to be creative. … … Go. Go, already. Creativity?? When nothing came, it would eventually spiral into, Okay…okay…okay…nothing. Bah! 

Don’t feel bad. So, because I wanted my creativity to spark so badly, I was disappointed when I didn’t think of anything. It doesn’t help to think that, but every writer doubts their craft.

Keep going. Allow yourself some time to think. Sit with your budding creation and wonder what could happen, what kinds of things you’d like to write about, whatever’s cool or interesting or intriguing. Think about your world and your characters. Sit with it for a while and see what happens.

(And, put on some music, too! But that step is optional.)

Here’s hoping you have a creative weekend!
Warm regards,
Kellie

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Five More Writing Tips

Hello my fellow writing nerds!

Sooo, I recently realized that I haven’t posted on here in over a month. It’s been a trying month for me, but that’s no excuse! Maybe I should try to write a bunch of posts and then schedule them? Annnnnnyway, what better way to start this little blog back up again than some more Writing Tips I enjoy:

1.) This writing tip comes from Jack London and I may or may not have used it here before but it’s one of my favorites: “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” (Spoiler: It’s true for life, too.)

2.) Set your work aside for a little bit before diving back into it again for another read through. Coming back to the work with a fresh eyes helps to catch the little things you may have missed if you went straight into editing mode. It might also help you get some new ideas for the work, too!

3.) Your characters don’t have to be likable (like villains), but they do have to be believable and compelling. Add in some faults to the character. Some good things, too, maybe. Definitely some motivation for why they’re doing this terrible thing.

4). The first draft, or second draft, or third draft doesn’t have to be perfect. Keep writing, put that story on paper, and then flesh it out and mold it into something beautiful later on.

5.) Sometimes characters have to walk through fire and come out better for it on the other side. (I’m paraphrasing a favorite quote of mine from Critical Role here, said by none other than Patrick Rothfuss.) But seriously, it’s true. Make your characters go through hard things and see what happens to them while they do and see how they fair on the other side. Did they crack under pressure? Did they embrace the flames? Did they get stronger or weaker once it was over? Did they learn anything? The truth is, we never really learn things unless we make mistakes and overcome them. Get better because of them. The characters have to go through a similar transformation. (Granted, the characters could crack, too, could feel weaker, could feel sad instead of empowered and that’s good, too, because some folks do crack under pressure or don’t learn the thing after one or two mistakes.) Put them through the fire and see what comes out the other side.

Well, that’s all for now. I hope everyone is having a lovely Labor Day weekend!
Warm regards,
Kellie

Writing Update: OH MY GOD, ALL THE THINGS

Hello fellow nerds and writers,

Here’s a writing update (and basically a ToDo List for myself):

Things I Didn’t Get:
– I submitted “Beware The Temptress Comes” to PodCastle and it got to the final round of reviews but ultimately didn’t get on the podcast.

Things I’ve Submitted To:
Nerdfighter Poetry Book – I submitted “The Criminality of Love” to these guys in April, and they closed their submissions in June! It would be so cool to get in their book, as I’ve been a fan of Hank and John for years. Plus, I love this poem and think it would fit perfectly with their vibe.
Shimmer – Because I didn’t get into PodCastle (yet!!), I submitted “Beware the Temptress Comes” to Shimmer on Tuesday of last week. They say it takes two weeks to get back, so I marked it on the calendar. I’ve been trying to find a place for Beware for the longest time, and I hope they like it.
Windfall – I submitted a brand new poem “A Frost-Tipped Memory” to Windfall on Friday of last week. I’m pretty proud of this new poem. It’s about Eagle River, Alaska, during the winter so calling up how the snow felt did wonders for me right now. (It’s currently 85 degrees in Portland and is supposed to get up to 106 this week!)

Things I Plan To Submit To:
PseudoPod – They’re the horror-themed sub-podcast from PodCastle and they open up for flash fiction and short stories in mid-August, so I’m going to submit “The Curse.”
Mutifarious Press – They’re looking for queer short stories for their anthology and I’d like to submit to them, one for fantasy and one for science fiction. The deadline is August 31 and I have a few character ideas, but I haven’t penned them quite yet.

My Fantasy Series:
I am SO FAR BEHIND in editing the first novel it’s not even funny. I keep on thinking about things I need to add to the story that what I really need is a solid sit-down with the novel so I can hash out all the things I’d like to do and get on with it. For example, I’d like to get to know my characters better, so I can portray them more realistically. I just finished reading the Shades of Magic trilogy by V. E. Schwab, and she does SO WELL at portraying her characters that it makes me want to do better with mine. SO. MANY. THINGS! Anyway, I love the magic and creatures and storyline, so it’s going well overall.

So many things to do!! I’ve been reading so many wonderful stories that it makes me want to write even better. That’s the good thing about writing (and life in general), you can always do things better than the last time. You can always, always, always get better.

Fellow Writers: How have your writings been going?
Fellow Nerds: Now that I’m done with the Shades of Magic trilogy, what should I read next?

Until next time!
Warm regards,
Kellie

WritingLife: The Little Detail Of Food

Food. It’s something we need to survive. It can be a rustic fair or a fancy creation, but regardless we all need to eat. Food does more than that, though, it can bring a family around a dinner table or open the eyes of an outsider. It can hint at how wealthy an establishment is. It can also showcase what’s in season in that area and what’s valued in that culture. Food can do so much. So why does it sometimes get passed over in our writings? Why do these little details so often get overlooked?

For example, I’m a freelance editor and as such I have the lovely opportunity to work with some amazing writers. One such writer kept mentioning food but wasn’t specific to what the food actually was. I pointed it out, and they replied saying I was “too obsessed” with food. But really, those little details were actually important. The story was set in Japan and food is a huge part of their culture (of any culture, I’d wager) and vastly different than our own. (For example: In Japan it’s common to have cooked rice with a cracked egg overtop for breakfast.) Instead of saying “XX had breakfast” and move on, adding in that small detail would ground the reader in this setting and in this culture. It was an interesting back-and-forth, and eventually the writer understood where I was coming from and added those details in. I believe the setting is stronger because of that.

And I’m here to implore all writers to include this sensory activity in their stories. After all, food is important, regardless of race. (Unless…you have a race that doesn’t eat, but that opens up a whole new set of experiences!) Now, that’s not to say every page has to have some kind of food on it. Don’t overboard the reader with an onslaught of meals, as that would probably get boring. But don’t forget them either.

Like I said before, food can help build the setting and tone of your story. A meal in a post-apocalyptic world would be vastly different than a meal set on a spaceship or a meal in historic Japan. A sit-down meal surrounded by family sets a different tone than a quick meal on the run or a hearty meal in a pub.

Food can help solidify the reader in a character’s POV. Is the soup too spicy? Is the bread too soft or salty or filled with nuts they don’t like? Does the juice from that purply-green fruit drip down their chin? Burst over their tongue? Scorch their throat going down?

Food can also help shape your characters. Do they miss certain foods from back home? Do they like certain spices or sweets? Do they even know what meats or vegetables are in the soup they’re currently enjoying?

These things may seem tiny among the “bigger details” like the plotline and the character arcs and the overall setting, but these little descriptions ground the readers in your world and your character. These little descriptions make the place seem real.

What do you think? Add a comment below!

Hope you have a lovely 4th of July weekend!
Until next time!
Kellie

If you want to write a book, here are five actual tips. (Don’t quit!)

Okay, my fellow writers, we all know that Beast article sucked. Maybe it was trying to be a tough-love kind of motivation. (Yes, it takes dedication.) Maybe it was trying to relate a truth about writing. (Yes, it can be hard.) Maybe the author was just having a terrible time as a writer and wanted to ostracize the community he desperately wanted to become a part of. (Side-eyes the article again.)

Regardless, the article was poorly written, the author comes across as a villain, AND the “tip” he gives (write everyday) while good for some people, simply can’t work for others. The author’s idea of “if you want to write a book, write everyday or quit” is a terrible mindset to have. To that end, here are five tips if you want to write a book:

1.) Read. Read so many books, inside your genre and out, whenever you can spare the time. Why? It’s important to see what’s been done in the literary world, it’s a way to build your repertoire of words (sounds weird, but seriously, reading helps you build your vocabulary), and it’s also a great space to gain inspiration.

2.) Read your work out loud. Yes, this also seems weird and maybe don’t do this in a coffee shop or other public place, but reading the scenes out loud will allow you to figure out the sticky spots, the weird transitions, the too-long sentences. It can help with pacing, too.

3.) Consider having a Post-it note on your computer (or somewhere you can dig it up easily) with an inspiring quote from your favorite author or from your favorite book. It’s something you can look at when times are rough, or when that one scene just isn’t working, or when you can’t think of how to make this one MC amazing. For me, I have this quote from Patrick Rothfuss when he guest starred on Critical Role as Ker saved on my desktop: “There are many things that move through fire and find themselves much better for it afterward.” 

4.) Try not to edit your first draft while you’re writing. It’s hard, I know. I also want to go back and fix things, but if you do that, you’ll literally never be done with the first draft. Give yourself permission to have that first draft be shit. Write whatever the hell you want. There’s always the second and third drafts to pull it into the shape you want it to be in.

5.) And finally, my last tip is a tip of the hat toward the Beast article. If you want to write a book, write. Simply write. You can write everyday. You can write once every week. You can write for a marathon weekend or a marathon month. But if you want to write a book, all you have to do is write. Write when it’s best for you.

BONUS TIP: And please, for the love of all the writing gods and goddesses and muses in this world and beyond, please don’t give up. Your story is worth telling.

I hope you have a lovely weekend.
Warm regards,
Kellie

Two Best Books With Two Best Wines

Happy National Wine Day!

That’s right. It’s National Wine Day, and how should we all celebrate this lovely holiday? By reading books, of course! Here’s two of my favorite wine/book pairings you should consider:

51MUF7bj-lL._SY346_For The Red Wine Lover
PAIR
Cabernet Sauvignon: full-bodied, gripping, blackcurrant notes, good with red meats
WITH
The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss: high fantasy, bold characters, twisting plot
WHY
With the bold taste of the wine and some nice red meat, you’ll really feel like you’re adventuring in a fantasy world with Kvothe and the others. While Kvothe’s stealing some poor chap’s coin, you’ll be stealing a lovely evening.

 

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For The White Wine Lover

PAIR
Riesling: light, fresh, apple notes, good with chicken and fish
WITH
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, Becky Chambers: fun scifi, character-driven plot, great worldbuilding
WHY
With the refreshing taste of the wine and perhaps some fish, you’ll be simply swept away by the wacky characters and fun storyline of the Wayfarer crew. While they’re off having adventures in the black, you’ll be adventuring right there with them.
Eh? EH? It’s a brilliant idea. So after work, stop by the wine shop and grab a bottle, stop by the bookshop and grab a book, and then head home to relax! I hope you enjoy the night off with a good book and a good glass of wine.

Until next time!
Warm regards,
Kellie

Fantasy Inspiration (A Song You May Find Familiar)

Inspiration can come from anywhere, as we all know, and I’m inspired by a lot of things when I’m walking around or just going my daily business. (Like trees and people and flowers and conversations. You know, the usual.)  I scribble things down in a notepad or the Notes section in my iPhone and go about the rest of my day, thanking myself for jotting down the gem to use later on because I KNOW I won’t remember it.

But when it comes to actually sitting down and writing the story? Well, that’s a bit different. I tend to gravitate towards certain things…okay, one certain thing…

And it’s probably because my current WIP is a fantasy and this is a fantasy-based song (obviously) and lets just admit that I love the LOTR soundtrack, but honestly, it’s so much easier to write when I have this on in the background. I dunno why, it just is. So I go with it.

What kinds of songs do you listen to while writing?

I hope you’re having a lovely Sunday night!
Warm regards,
Kellie

LifeGoals in 2017

Well, here we are. There are only two more days in 2016, and as this year comes to a close, I’m left to wonder what my goals are for the new one. To that end, I’ve complied a list of goals I’d like to complete in 2017:

Secure a Job
This one’s a no-brainer for me. It’s been my goal since I graduated PSU, but since 2016 was a little harsh, this one has to be the first one on the list. Here’s hoping 2017 will bring more opportunities!

Create and Stick To a Fitness Plan
Note how I didn’t say, “go on a diet.” Diets are tricky and they have a bad connotation in my mind because they remove food that I enjoy. Don’t get me wrong, my fitness plan will still cut back on the unhealthy foods—cookies, I’m looking at you most of all—but it won’t remove them entirely. (I hope to create healthier versions of the unhealthy food.) My plan will also include finding workouts I enjoy—like zumba, step, or swimming—and doing them more often in order to lose weight and become stronger.

Write More/Launch Losing Hold
I’m currently working on the first book of my fantasy series! It’s the first draft so it’s just me getting the story on the page at the moment, but I plan to have the draft done by end of March/beginning of April. Why? Losing Hold is slated to launch in April and that was the perfect deadline for me. Launching Losing Hold is also a goal for this spring, so I’ll be working on a marketing plan and then initiating it, too. I also plan on writing more in this blog, as I seemed to have fallen off the wagon a bit.

Do More Activities
I sway to being a homebody more than anything else. This isn’t exactly a new discovery; I’ve always liked hanging out at home. After all, I have tea, a computer with internet access, food I can cook into something yummy, and my two cats…it’s a cozy and comfortable space. Plus, since I don’t have a job, going out and paying for things I don’t really need—like a drink or a book or a meal or a movie ticket, etc.—seems unwise. I do take walks and go to free things, but I hope to do more activities in the coming year. Meetups come to mind! And wherever I get a job I hope to engage in after-work activities and really try to put myself out there more often. It’s something I always want to do, but don’t do nearly enough.

Make New Friends
This one goes hand-in-hand with the “Do More Activities” idea. Since graduating from PSU, my friend circle has diminished quite a bit. A lot of my friends moved away to bigger and better things (namely: jobs) and I’m quite happy for them, of course! But it means I don’t hang out with friends nearly as often as I probably should. Because of that, I plan on making some new friends this year!

Annnnnd that’s all the goals I’ve formulated thus far! I might add more as time goes on, of course, but I like how the list is shaping up. They all seem like accomplishable goals for me, and I’m excited to learn what opportunities 2017 has in store.

What are some of your life goals for the new year? I’d love it know in the comments.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday this weekend!
Warm regards,
Kellie

#WIPJoy

 

One of the great things about social media is the chance to communicate and connect with people across the globe. Another great thing about social media are the hashtags, because it allows you to pair down all the posts and really see what people are talking about concerning a specific subject. It allows you to join in a conversation more easily.

A hashtag I’m particularly enjoying this month is #WIPjoy. Started by fellow scifi/fantasy author Bethany A Jennings, #WIPjoy is a month-long celebration of your current work in progress (WIP). The writers follow a specific set of guidelines for their daily posts (including #WIPjoy and usually the specific day, example: #WIPjoy D22) specifically about their writing and then can look at what other authors are doing for theirs. Here are the guidelines this year:

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It’s a great hashtag to join in and look through because it connects you to other writers online, it allows you to really dig into your current work in progress, and you can see all the cool things other writers are doing. Plus, it’s fun! It’s a celebration of writing, how can it not be fun, right?

It’s especially good for me since I needed a boost this month to think about my current work, a five-book fantasy series I’m tentatively called The Broken Chronicles. My folks are visiting and we’ve been doing a ton of adventuring in this state of mine, so I haven’t been able to work on my novel very much. This #WIPjoy allows me to keep my mind on it, if only for a short time of the day.

It’s been a lot of fun. If you’re participating, shoot me your Twitter handle and I’ll send you some love! If you’re not participating (or don’t use Twitter), what work in progress would you talk about if you were?

I hope you have a lovely day!
Warm regards,
Kellie

35 Thoughts I Had While Reading Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind

Patrick Rothfuss is a fantasy writer. A good one. A great one even. I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about his work. And since I’m currently working on building a fantasy series, I decided to give his first book The Name of the Wind a read. Here are 35 thoughts I had while reading his book.

*SPOILERS*

  1. Man, I love fantasy. Time to get lost in another world.
  2. Wow, he uses a lot of similes.
  3. Is this omniscient POV?
  4. Hmm, this is starting out a little slow. I’ll keep going, though.
  5. Demon SPIDERS? Juuussst great. I hate spiders…
  6. Oooo, I like Bast!
  7. Wait, wait, wait, don’t tell me the guy is called Chronicler and he’s a SCRIBE? *sighs* Please tell me he has an actual name later on…
  8. Chronicler has an actual name—yay!
  9. Of course Chronicler is going to write down this Kote/Kvothe’s story. It’s the perfect vessel to have backstory on this character.
  10. Wait, THREE DAYS? This guy’s a bit full of himself, isn’t he? This isn’t going to take forever is it?
  11. Ughhhh, I don’t want to know Kvothe’s backstory anymore! What about the demon spiders? What’s going to happen to this little town? Put me back in the present!
  12. Abenthy is pretty cool, though.
  13. Learning magic is hard…and a bit tedious to read about. Hmmm…
  14. So this kid’s a child genius then? Okay.
  15. Ooo, I stand by my earlier liking of Bast. He is EVEN COOLER! Some kind of Satyr creature? I love it.
  16. Man, I want to skip these backstory parts and just get to the present already. But no, Rothfuss wrote this story specifically like this so I will continue reading.
  17. Cute family and such, but let me guess, this whole trope AND the parents are all going to die?
  18. Yup.
  19. Why can’t there be a main character who has a good backstory, with great parents and friends and family who don’t die?
  20. Okay, so maybe the backstory is interesting.
  21. I like this guy’s descriptions! Like poetry. Or, like music. Rothfuss = new writer goal!
  22. Don’t really like how the women are being portrayed in this.
  23. Amended #22: Danna’s pretty cool, though.
  24. Okay, I get that he’s obsessed with her already.
  25. So apparently “nice young ladies” without families can only be the servant-type of character? Hmmm…
  26. Okay, gotta love the descriptions. Sometimes they’re repetitive, but I don’t mind at all at this point.
  27. So after making light of common story-like instances and then intentionally going the opposite direction, he just manages to find Denna, the “only survivor” of this horrible attack? I call bull!
  28. Sometimes calling attention to the “story-like instances” and then deliberately going the opposite direction, makes the times this story is like other stories way more apparent. I like it and I don’t like it.
  29. Exciting times for this kid! And he is just a kid, a teenager, so I can forgive him for his horrible mistakes.
  30. Dragons! No, of course not dragons. I wish it were a dragon.
  31. Ughhh, too many similes, dude! Stop it!
  32. Nice flourish of an ending to the backstory, though. A bit too quick of a summary of the fall term but not bad.
  33. Oooookay, so Bast is my now my FAVORITE character of the WHOLE BOOK!
  34. Overall, this is a good story. I can appreciate the hype. Nine out of ten stars.
  35. Well played, Rothfuss, well played.

Honestly, I had a good time reading his book. It’s an unusual (but almost classic) format, with interesting characters, and a twisting plotline.

Should you read The Name of the Wind? Yeah.
Will I read the next one? Of course.

I hope you’re having a lovely Friday evening!
Warm regards,
Kellie