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

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Holy Effing Crap | A 7.0 Earthquake Update

Well, it finally happened, a big earthquake hit Anchorage, Alaska. We’ve been due for a big earthquake for a while, and while this one might not be “the Big One” it certainly did a bunch of damage in it’s own right.

I was at work when it happened, getting a poppyseed muffin with my coworkers like our usual Friday-morning routine. I chatted about weekend plans and what kind of coffee they were getting and how of course I was getting a poppyseed muffin because I wanted to freeze it later. (Poppyseed muffins are amazing frozen, just FYI. You’re welcome.)

The earthquake hit and my whole day changed. The earthquake felt like a normal one, an everyday little earthquake we get here in Alaska, but then it didn’t stop…and the building groaned…and we held on until it ended. (It’s really unnerving when the ground shakes, you know? Makes you realize how small you really are.) When it was done, coffee flavor syrups littered the floor. (Luckily they were plastic containers.) My officemates went up to the third floor and our suite to figure out what to do next. Was everyone okay? Should we stay? Was the building safe? We all got on their phones to text loved ones and that’s when the images of the destruction outside flew onto our screens, and an idea of what hit came into focus.

It was a 7.0 earthquake that lasted for ~20 seconds and hit ~10 miles from Anchorage. The ground rumbled, the buildings shook, and buildings cracked. Roads literally disintegrated. Electricity shuddered to a stop. Water lines broke. Drop ceilings fell, glass shattered, and what was once on the shelves now littered the floor.

My building, the Frontier building, suffered some damage as well, cracks in the walls on the stairwell and such. We were forced to evacuate just in case, so my sister and I made the long trip home to Eagle River. Keep in mind, there’s one road to the Valley, to Eagle River, and when a disaster happens…well, that road becomes congested really quick. When the disaster breaks one of our bridges…it takes a long time to get home. A really long time. Six hours in fact!

It was a long drive, but we knew our family and our pets were healthy and safe, so that was all that mattered in a time like this.

At home, we faced shattered glass and broken tech, books and knick-knacks strewn on the floor, pickle juice pooling in random places from a cracked jar, and four very scared cats. Plus some cracks in the walls that were deemed as “cosmetic.” *phew* Luckily we had heat and power that first night so that was good, though we’ve had to boil water for a couple of days. (That boil-water order was just lifted a few hours ago!)

Mom and Dad didn’t have heat that first night, but they were okay. Their house was a wreak, though. Bookshelves were broken, books and DVDs and plants and boardgames were just ~everywhere~ and my goodness, the kitchen was a mess. Every room seemed worse off. We couldn’t get some doors open because of the amount of stuff that fell down! Crazy. Cleaning will take forever, but we’ll help M&D. (And we have!)

The aftershocks came in waves, too, so it was really hard to sleep that first night. There has been 1,400 aftershocks thus far. According to the Anchorage Daily News, 593 were recorded at magnitude 2.0 or greater; 17 registered at least 4.0; and five were at least 5.0. (Source) I went from worrying that we’d have another big earthquake to being super annoyed whenever one hit. The cats would scatter each time.

Anyway, three days out and we have heat, power, and water. The condo is pretty much back to normal, much to the cats’ joy, and M&D’s house is looking…better. The State of Alaska is closed tomorrow (Monday) so we have an extra day to help clean! I’m not looking forward to the commute into Anchorage on Tuesday since the Valley folks will be routed through Eagle River until the bridges are fixed and the Glenn Highway will be an ongoing problem…we’ll see how it goes.

Earthquakes happen but the city and state did a good job at responding to it, and while things look kinda shaky right now, it’ll only get better.

Warm regards,
Kellie

P.S. – AND the stores are opening up again, so we were able to get emergency weekend supplies! If you want to see more photos, check out my Facebook or Twitter.

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Really it was comfort foods, but who’d blame us. 🙂

 

Publishing Timelines: Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties Update!

Publishing, like any creative field, is fluid. Things change all the time. Covers are tweaked, and novels are often ripped to shreds to build better versions. Change is expected.

Timelines change, too.

When I originally signed on with my publisher Desert Palm Press back in May we were shooting for a November pub date, which at the time seemed doable. (If you’re thinking even that’s fast…yeah, it is! DPP has a pretty quick turnaround time for publishing books.)

After I signed, we immediately launched into the editing phase of Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties and…it took longer than it was scheduled to take. Why? Well, I went on vacation mid-Round One so I took two extra weeks to get my book back to my editor, and then in Round Two my editor took an extra two weeks on their end for personal reasons. My book is now in the copyediting and formatting stage, so it’s a waiting game until I get to review it again. However, the dual delays in Round One and Round Two caused my book to be a month off schedule.

While working on the cover design phase, brainstorming ideas and such, my designer also had personal issue that cropped up AND we actually had a lot of ideas to pick from. So it turns out this design phase is taking a little bit longer, too. We’ve finally narrowed it down to two gorgeous covers but haven’t yet decided on a final. (Because it’s HARD, and I love them both.)

Anyway, we were getting a bit close to the original publication date so I spoke to my publisher last week about it. Because of these delays, the publication date has been pushed back a month…which brings me to the real reason for this Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties update blogpost:


Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties
is now going to be published mid-December!


Like I said in the beginning, publishing is a fluid process and timelines change, too. I hope you don’t mind the modification, and if you want to read a snippet of Sunkissed Feathers ahead of time, I’m going to post a sneak peek on my website in November!

Now time for me to update my social media profiles.

Happy Saturday!
Warm regards,
Kellie

P.S. – If you’d like more updates about my writings, check out my Twitter and Facebook pages!

 

 

EVEN MORE Writing Tips: Monday Night Madness

It’s Monday evening. I just submitted to two pieces – a science fiction short story and a true-story Alaskan-based poem – and I’m pretty happy with them so I’m looking forward to see if they enjoy the submissions, too. It’s already 11pm, and I should be in bed. I’m not, obviously, but I’m also too tired to work on my own writing…SO INSTEAD here are three more writing tips for my fellow creatives:

  1. Keep it simmering. It’s something Hank Green said on Twitter about his new novel that really stuck with me. He worked on the novel for years, but when he wasn’t “actively working on it” he kept it simmering in his mind anyway. Thinking about it in the shower and such. It’s a good idea for all writers, and one I really connected with. So, keep it simmering, everyone!
  2. Realize that you can’t write all the time and be okay with it. Know your limits. Know your boundaries. (For example, one of my limits is I refuse to work on revisions when I’m tired, so on Wednesday night, even though I planned on working on revisions, I was sleepy. I know I’m bound to make mistakes when I’m sleepy and get more annoyed at the manuscript when I’m sleepy, so I didn’t work on it.
  3. Don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t been able to write or brainstorm or edit or read in a while. Other priorities take precedence and that’s okay. If you’re really busy, though, try scheduling it in, an hour or so at a time, or less if necessary! Friday evening can be a reading time, Saturday morning can be a brainstorming session for your new story, etc.

What kinds of advice do you have for creative folks?

Happy Monday, everyone!
Warm regards,
Kellie

Nine Writing Goals for 2018

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

So as the new year comes in with a bang, I’m reflecting on how 2017 turned out and what I’d like to do different for 2018. Honestly, 2017 was a rough year for me in many ways, but in my writing world it was pretty good. Here were some writing successes:

  1. Losing Hold was published in April AND nominated for two Golden Crown Literary Awards: a 2018 Goldie Award in the Tee Corinne Award for Outstanding Cover Design category and a 2018 Goldie Award in the Science Fiction / Fantasy category.
  2. Finding Hekate was nominated for an award: a 2017 James Tiptree Jr. Award.
  3. I finished the first draft of the Severed Ties and got some insightful comments back from my beta readers!
  4. I successfully wrote some holiday gifts for my followers: two flash fiction pieces for my newsletter subscribers, a poem for my Instagram peeps, and a short story for everyone else! The short story, A Desert Welcome, is posted on my website under the Prompt Plot 2017 Holiday Gift, so go check it out!

I want my this year to be EVEN BETTER. Here are nine writing goals to strive for:

  1. clean up Severed Ties early this year, come up with a different title, and submit to publishers in March/April
  2. write first draft of the second book of fantasy series, submit to beta readers by end of the year (shoot for October)
  3. plot the third book
  4. have a daily writing goal, depending on what I’m working on
    1. For revising my first novel – 1/2 chapter per night
    2. For plotting out my second novel – figure out at least one plot point/character/interesting per night, WritingSnippet
    3. For writing anything – 250 words per night
  5. submit to at least five literary magazines (short stories/flash fiction/poetry)
    1. related: get published in at least one literary magazine
  6. go to one writing/geeky conference as a vendor to promote my Cicatrix Duology/other writings
  7. go to one writing conference as a writer, to learn more things
  8. work on making my newsletter more exciting/engaging and build my newsletter subscribers
  9. Amp up my social media presence some more; have fun with it!
    1. do some more stuff on my website, too

SO MANY THINGS. And I’m excited for all of them. Now, time to play some games with my family and have another cup of tea. I hope your 2018 is amazing!

Happy First Day of 2018!
Warm regards,
Kellie

 

 

 

IT’S FREAKIN’ DECEMBER 7TH

It’s December.

December.

DECEMBER.

And not only is it December, it’s freaking December 7th! We just celebrated Thanksgiving a few weeks ago and Jess’ birthday a couple of days ago. We celebrate Mom’s birthday in a few days. Two weeks after that, it’s Dad’s birthday AND THEN CHRISTMAS, New Year’s Eve/Day, AND THEN MY BIRTHDAY.

As you can see, December is a whirlwind of birthday cake, presents, shopping, prepping, and celebrating, and I don’t mind one bit. I love this time of year, with the fairy lights and the Christmas music and the giving of gifts. It’s hectic, but it’s a fun kind of hectic and I’m happy to be home for the magic of the season.

(Now, if only it would stop raining here – you read that right, RAIN in ALASKA in DECEMBER – and give me some fluffy white snow, that’ll be perfect.)

I wish you the best and brightest December, and even if you celebrate a different holiday or no holiday at all, I hope you feel a little bit of the magic, too.

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

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