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

Inspiration: Where Do Stories Come From?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time!
Warm regards,
Kellie

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

Ten Writing Tips

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Reflection

I just finished applying to a job and that got me thinking. It’s amazing how much things can change in a year. Last year I had just completed the button-making party for Write to Publish 2016. I was nervous because I’d been working on this day since March 2015 and Chels and I wanted it to go well. (Spoiler Alert: It went well.) I had written a blogpost with the same title as this one and in it, I mused how things were different than the year prior and about how things would be different next year, too. I mused that I’d be graduated, that I’d find a job, and that I might even move to a new location. (While knocking on allll the wood, of course.)

Well, it is “next year” and yes, things are different. I did graduate last year. It was an amazing weekend and I’m so happy I got to share it with my family and friends. Turns out the wood knocking didn’t quite help as quickly as I would’ve liked because I haven’t gotten a job, yet. This fact is honestly the most disappointing thing thus far but I have to keep my hopes up that’ll it happen for me. I also haven’t moved, yet, which makes sense because I would’ve moved for a job. Even if I do get a job in Portland, I was thinking about moving from this location to elsewhere. I love this apartment and it’s been a good home for the past two and a half years, but it’s quite expensive and I don’t need to be near the university any longer.

Next year? Well things will change again, of course. I’ll have a job, I’d moved, and I’ll be facing another challenge that life will unexpectedly throw at me. It’ll be different, but I know I’ll be able to handle it.

For now, though, I have to be focused on finding a full-time job, something that’s been my obsession since I graduated. It’s getting harder with each month, honestly, harder to push on and apply to yet another position even though I’ve applied (and lost) so many before. But I’ll do it, of course, I have to. I’ll write all the cover letters, re-do all the resumes, and participate in all the interviews until I land a position.

Wish me luck!

I hope you’re having a lovely Tuesday!
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

Upon Turning The Key

I moved into this apartment in fall of 2014. It was a big move for me. A huge decision. I turned the key into a new life, a different one far away from my friends and family back in Alaska. It was an insane change. And for some crazy reason each time something huge happened in my life after that moment, I thought I would feel differently after I turned the key.

After my first class in grad school
After getting the grades back from my first term
After coming back after the holidays
After completing my first big task at Ooligan Press
After accepting the position of co-manager for Write to Publish 2016
After the day of Write to Publish 2016
After coming back from my first solo trip to LA for AWP representing Ooligan Press
After my very first book was published by Desert Palm Press
After successfully defending my thesis
After graduating from PSU with a masters in book publishing

After each of these huge accomplishments, I thought turning the key would be different. Feel different. Seem different. (Probably because the first time I came into my apartment it was such a radical change from my old life.) But it wasn’t different, really. I mean, yeah, I have some more feathers to pin in my hat and I was super proud of my accomplishments, but I was still the same person, living in the same apartment, doing my day-to-day. And I slowly realized that actually turning the key wasn’t the thing that made it such a life-changing event.

Moving was. Getting my own apartment was. Starting a new career path was. The turning of the key was just a simple way of calling this place—and this new life—home.

I hope you’re having a lovely Wednesday!
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

Flight Anthology Pubbed Today!

front-coverHello everyone!

Guess what? The 2016 Queer Sci Fi Flash Fiction anthology Flight is here, and I have a story in it! My scifi piece is entitled “A Sub Mechanic’s Panic.” It’s surrounded by some other amazing stories; I’m so happy to be included!

Here’s a bit about the competition:

A 300-word story should be easy, right? Many of our entrants say it’s the hardest thing they’ve ever written.

Queer Sci Fi’s Annual Flash Fiction Contest challenges authors to write a complete LGBTQ speculative fiction micro-story on a specific theme. “Flight” leaves much for the authors to interpret—winged creatures, flight and space vehicles, or fleeing from dire circumstances.

Some astonishing stories were submitted—from horrific, bloodcurdling pieces to sweet, contemplative ones—and all LGBTQ speculative fiction. The stories in this anthology include AI’s and angels, winged lions, and wayward aliens. Smart, snappy slice of life pieces written for entertainment or for social commentary. Join us for brief and often surprising trips into 110 speculative fiction authors’ minds.

Other important details and links:

The book is available in eBook form (4.99), and will soon be available in paperback with b/w illustrations inside (12.99) and in a special collector’s edition with color illustrations (24.99).
Publisher (info only, no buy link yet)
Amazon
ARe
Kobo
Goodreads
Goodreads Series Page
Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and Apple: Coming soon

If you like speculative fiction in the LGBT sphere, check out this anthology! I said it earlier but I’ll say it again, there are some amazing stories in this book, and I’m so happy to be among them.

(Also, writing a 300-word story is tough; fellow writers, you should try it sometime.)

I hope you’re having a lovely Wednesday!
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