Togowoods: An Alaska Cabin

Togowoods: An Alaska Cabin

I decided to go to Togowoods today.
The cabin is still simple and old,
there are no heaters, just a fireplace without any wood.

I walk outside to the only restroom for miles around,
an outhouse, and not a very good one at that.

As I open the door, it creaks, the sound is
similar to the one I remember all those nights ago.
The outhouse was scary back then
a long walk down a steep hill, icy from snow,
and dark from the absence of any electricity.

It was the 3 o’clock-in-the-morning-bathroom-runs
that showed who your true friends really were,
the outings where we swore monsters would get us
or at the very least a moose would charge.

Where the round seats were bigger than necessary,
and had a thin sheet of stick-to-your-ass frost
we always forgot about until it was painful to get back up.

Where the spider-webs and icicles melted together,
gossamer strands, unable to decipher the difference
until an angry arachnid suddenly appeared on your shoulder.

Where, when finished, I would shut the door
on the frozen hole they called “the outhouse”
and look up into the night sky, the stars glittering like jewels,
and feel the infinite emptiness
of that vast space pushing down on us
until we were ants on a blacktop,
crawling helplessly over pieces of sand
that were really mountains.

Where I first realized we were merely specs in space,
that earth, which seemed so big to my ten-year-old self,
was just one tiny planet compared to the millions of others.

Where the sun, our sun, the life-giving force
that brings us heat and energy,
the center of our solar system,
could be just another star to somebody else.

Now, ten years later, I am taller and wiser,
I know there is nothing scary about an outhouse.
Yet, the fact still remains; I am no larger than I felt
that one moment so many years ago.
A tiny speck on our edge of the universe.

Have a lovely evening, guys. Also, just so you know, Write to Publish 2016 went AWESOME! I’ve been recovering from it and starting on a whole new project {details to come} for Ooligan Press.

Warm regards,
Kellie

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Three Random Haikus

On Writing
Drink tea, write, sip wine
So many words on the page
I have to revise

On Editing
Novel edits are
Not as smooth as I wanted
Spent hours on it. 

On Life
I lost my glasses.
Where did I leave them today?
Oh, gosh! On my head.

Have you ever dabbled in poetry? I often do, just to clear my head.

Have a lovely weekend!
Warm regards,
Kellie

A Copyeditor’s Job – (In Poem Form)

A copyeditor’s job is broken
Down into four little C’s
Simple C’s, elegant C’s
Clarity, consistency
Coherency, correctness

It’s distillation, clarification
It’s subjective… sometimes
But the typos, the grammar mistakes
The reading every single word
And asking every single comma,
Period, semicolon, and dash—
Whether it’s hyphen, en, or em—
What the fuck are you doing there and
Asking the almost existential question
We humans, with our huge souls and tiny homes
Are afraid to answer
Do you even belong?
These are not subjective

It’s 50-60 percent technical
40-50 percent creative
See it’s not all red, blue, or purple pen
Strokes on a keyboard
Bubbles in the margins
Not all judgments or
Queries
Or slicing your work—or your heart—to bits

We don’t want to ruin your voice or
Ruin your story or
Ruin your life

But

We fix the stuff that matters
Two passes are usually fine
And if we fix something and
You
Don’t like it
Feel free to query
But know
We will back our edits, our suggestions, our marks
With orange and blue facts
From the big book of CMS

We do make style sheets
For random things like
Dumpster
Your slang words
Our sanity

So on page 305
We don’t need to remember
If you decided to spell a character’s name oddly
Strangely
Incorrectly even on page 5
For a character not seen again for 300 pages
We’ll just look at our style sheet
And go from there

Be warned though
We will kill little words
Words that do nothing
Like “that”
And in a medium to heavy edit
Watch out
Our pens or keyboards will want to run the show

Your edited manuscript might look
Colorful
By the time we’re finished

But please know
We mean you no harm
It’s not a personal attack
On you
On your sanity
On your life
It’s just…well…
We want to make your work better
Polished. Refined, even

And if we need to research if
Buttfucked is one word or
Butt plug should be hyphenated
We’ll do just that

We will also call out at least three times
The repeated actions your characters do like
Looked, pointed, smiled
Flipped off, rolled his/her eyes,
And ask you to vary it a bit, use
The full range of motions
If you will

Trust us, doing so will make your characters more believable

Like any profession
We have rules and guidelines to follow
Or we, too, will be called out
But we don’t remember everything

For example, I will never remember
Numbers or numerals so that section
In The Copyeditors Handbook will always
Remain open in my lap but
Never in my mind
I’m the same with hyphenation so
I have that section flagged in CMS
We are not perfect
We just want your writing to be

But we do it for you and your work
After it’s through our hands
Your poem
Essay
Short story
Full-length manuscript will be
Better
Than before

All that’s left to say on your part
Is “Thank you.”
On ours
“Anytime.”

Until next week!
Warm regards,
Kellie

Next Month

Tomorrow’s Fourth of July already?

WHAAAAAAT?

I can’t believe how fast June went by, like Sheldon’s Halloween costume in The Big Bang Theory.

sheldon cooper

So. Crazy.

And get this? I’m leaving next month! No, not the blog. What I mean to say is I’m moving. From Alaska. To Portland. With my two cats. It’s going to be an adventure, for sure. I’m driving down with my mom and my cats and as much stuff as I can stuff into my car… with my mom… and my cats… and me. (Insert Crazy Here)

I just can’t believe I’m leaving next month.

NEXT month.

Next MONTH.

NEXT MONTH.

NeXt MoNtH.

Any way I write it I still get chills.

Now for some people moving is no big deal. I’ve had quite a few friends who’ve done it. They all say it went fine. And I’m sure it will go fine.

But as someone who has lived in the same town for her whole life, moving is more of a big deal than most. How is that possible, you ask? (Okay, maybe you didn’t but oh well.)

When I was younger (think, as a one year old) my family moved to Alaska for my dad since he got a job up here. That was twenty four years ago and we haven’t left since. I did homeschool here, I went to high school here, I even went to the local college in Anchorage (go UAA!). I lived at home throughout my college life. Now, to be fair, I did spend a semester in Montana in 2009, lived in the dorms and such, away from my family. But that was one semester. And my friend went to the school in Montana so it wasn’t that terrifying.

[Now this isn’t… terrifying, per say. It’s just different. And my family and friends can tell you stories of how I deal with change. Hint: Not Too Well.]

But I’ve lived in Alaska for my whole life. Heck, I lived in the same house for my entire childhood and only recently moved out. And even then, I moved into a condo with my sister. That is down the street from my parent’s house. Like really, I can walk to my parent’s house without much difficulty. (Of course, you can pretty much walk anywhere in my little hometown though.) And I get together with my family every week, if not multiple times a week. We’re very close knit. And I’m not complaining, because it’s honestly been great. I consider myself very lucky to have such deep roots in my little hometown and to my family.

Any my friends, too! I’ve made friends here, damn it! Good friends. Nice friends. Best friends, even. Friends who understand my weirdness. Friends who get that my favorite color is in fact orange and I do have a ton of allergies and I really really REALLY hate spiders.

And all the groups I belong to? Two writing groups (Jitters Critters and Writer’s Ink), my reading group (The Living Room), and my book club (The Pages We Turn).

And my internship with Cirque!

And my current job at Michael L. Foster & Associates, Inc. My 8-5 job with a solid paycheck and nice co-workers (some of them have become my friends)!

All of this will change.

So the thought of moving is… well… strange.

But it’s so I can go to my dream school. It’s good to be more independent. It’s good to see who I’ll become when I’m on my own.

And I’m sure, when I get down there, it’ll be great. I will manage. I’ll do better than manage, though, I’ll flourish.

It’s just a change.
Change is scary.
But good.

In the meantime, though, I need to take a bunch of pictures of Alaska. Yes, I have a million pictures of Alaska. And yes I will be back for Christmas and (probably) a week next summer, but really, I don’t know when I’ll be back. I might find an amazing opportunity that is only in Portland and I have to be okay with that. I will be okay with that.

So, to allow me to be okay with that, I will take pictures to PROVE I AM FROM ALASKA.

(Okay, so maybe Portland people aren’t as amazed by that since they are kind of similar, but other Lower 48ers are just astonished by it so I need proof.)

Anyway, I will go camping with my family. I will do crazy stuff with my friends. I will go to a wedding AT THE ZOO! (Which I am psyched about!) And I will take pictures. I’ll make memories here in Alaska to look back at in Portland. (And I’ll make memories in Portland to bring back here, too.)

All in all, it will be awesome.

Because I am awesome.

I hope everyone has a lovely Fourth of July Weekend!
Warmest regards,
Kellie
Post Script – I saw this really cute girl today in passing and I wrote a poem, because I’m artistic like that.

Cutie

I saw a cutie today.
No, not the orange,
The weird tiny fruit made only for children
That are actually kind of good
For everybody.

This cutie walked past my car.
No, rushed really
Unaware of my staring
Not creepy or weird
Just captivated.

In my mind I saw things.
Don’t go in the gutter, I say.
I saw pixie wings and horns
Dragons and beasts and creatures all tamed
By her.

The little five-year-old
In a green shirt, dark pants
Skipping by her father’s side.
A sweet cutie and
Little muse.

– Did you think I was going to write about an adult ‘cute girl’? Well, I did. But not on here. I posted the one about the little girl instead. Am I a little bit evil today? Perhaps…

Cake Time Woes

Life Post!

So, today we had cake to celebrate a co-workers birthday. I was going to write a random poem about the cake. It’s called Midnight Delight – chocolate cake, chocolate ganache, chocolate ice cream – it’s pretty much a chocolate lovers dream and deserves its own poem. Probably deserves it’s own anthology, actually.

But I didn’t have any of the cake. I did, however, set up the conference room and got everything ready for the celebration, so I wrote a poem about that instead.

# # #

The Makings of a Chocolate Cake Celebration

Step One: Utensils
Set up the conference room,
Grab forks, plates, and napkins.
The big serrated knife we always use.

Step Two: Chairs
Did I grab enough?
Count the bubbles to be sure.
Two people signed as “out” are actually “in”
Hunt down more chairs.

Step Three: People
Co-workers come early, shoo them away.
Call them back a minute later.

Step Four: Cake
The cake’s been out for twenty minutes.
Yes, of course it’s defrosted.
It’s not. Use boss’s hunting knife instead.
(A first for everything.)

Step Five: Enjoy
Everyone gets a slice,
Except me.

Damn allergies.

# # #

“There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.” – Charles Dickens

So… I guess I’m the friend, eh?

Ah, well, have a random Friday evening and a lovely weekend!
Warm regards,
Kellie

Editing Insecurities + A Poem

I just completed another round of Desert Palm Press editing. I had a good time editing this manuscript, the story was pretty solid, the characters, exciting, and the themes, consistent. Plus it was a fantasy realm, right up my alley. As with every story, some things needed tweaking, but overall it was a very good book. I was happy to send my markups off to the author and publisher.

And yet, I worried, too.

I’m always worried about what the author will say once I send their manuscript back. Will they like my suggestions? Hate I axed out a section? Dismiss all my hard work entirely under the guise of author’s creativity? (Yes, the author always has the last say, but sometimes that comma should just stay where it is, people!) I use Word’s Track Changes feature, so the manuscript itself tends to get completely colorful – red for deletions, blue for insertions, and green for comments and questions.

It’s a silly insecurity, really, because I’ve had positive reviews from all of my clients thus far. And I like doing the work. But a small part of me always thinks what if they hate it this time? I think it’s because so much of editing is subjective, you can give four editors the same manuscript and you’ll get four different ideas in return.

I’ll stop fretting eventually. Until then, here’s a poem:

**

The Red (and Blue and Green) Pen

I use colors to make the ripping
of your story a little more bearable,
The deletions of sections a little less blue, and
reduce the blood-shed tears over my insertion ideas.
(Because I know you could’ve thought of what I suggested,
If you had more time.)

Those lime-green comments are supposed to catch your eye,
make you rethink that one line,
paragraph,
whole entire chapter or even
that ending.

I wear many hats.
I am a character analyzer,
a plotline fixer,
a finder of holes,
of stray commas,
of the incorrect usage of there, their, and they’re.

I don’t mean to hurt your feelings,
slicing up your work
throwing out your baby.

But the way the character is acting is out
of tune with the way you wrote her.
So don’t be sad when I ax
that section out.

It’s for the best.
Really.

My suggestions will make your manuscript better,
the descriptions tighter,
characters more powerful,
and plotlines solid.

You’re the reason I have a job at all.

After all, you wrote the story,
racked up the agonizing hours staring at a computer,
lost time wandering about your world,
and did a damn good job, too.

Trust my multicolored pen,
and we’ll make your work shine.

**

Have a lovely weekend everyone!
Warm regards,
Kellie

Now In Yours?

I first heard this poem in high school. It stuck with me, hiding away in some dark corner of my mind, waiting to reveal itself at the most oddest of times when I least expect it. Sometimes I randomly think ‘petals on a wet, black bough’ and move on.
Today is one of those days. 

**

In a Station of the Metro
by Ezra Pound 

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough. 

**

Now will it stick with you?

Have a lovely weekend!
Warm regards, 
Kellie

Hence, a Poem

Limbo

I don’t like it.
I don’t like being in limbo.
It’s a dark, scary void that
glasses everything over with grey and black,
fogging up my path,
suffocating my dreams. 

I don’t like it.

I don’t like not learning anything,
not furthering my career,
not following my passion,
not doing anything worth my while,
it seems. 

I don’t like it.

Even though I am
working.
I am
writing.
I am
editing the scraps that come my way
the blue moon books and once-in-a-while
jobs
the ones that show me who I am
what I do
and how the damn well I do it. 

But I still don’t like it.

I want more.

I want to become that colored-pen editor
that writer who everyone has read
that worker-bee who gets stuff done. 

And I will.

But in the meantime
in the waiting time
I’ll take what I can get.
In the void, it’s better than nothing. 

On that lovely note, I’m taking a continuing education copyediting course! Six full weeks online; perfect, since I’m juggling a full time job, an internship with Cirque and random editing jobs, along with a personal life. It started on Wednesday the 18th. I’m all ready learning new things. The lesson today, for example, centered on copyediting symbols used on hard-copy manuscripts. I learned all the common symbols and how to use them… then discovered they’re almost going by the wayside because of Microsoft Word’s Track Changes feature. (Ahh, technology.)

Anyway, that’s my random burst of happiness for the week. Hence, a random poem.
Have a lovely weekend, everyone.

Time to enjoy the 40-degree sunshine!
Warm regards,
Kellie

Because I neglected to post last week and…

work went crazy and I’m still a little miffed (even though I was AWESOME and calm)… here’s a poem.

 

Really?

I would really like it if
People would stop leaving coffee grounds in the kitchen
On the counter
On the table
On the freakin’ floor
Haven’t you learned to clear up after yourself? 

I would really like it if
People would change the toilet paper rolls
When they know it needs to be changed
Because it needs to be changed
Because we’re civil like that
And who wants to be sitting on the throne without a tissue? 

And I would especially like it if
People wouldn’t wait until the last possible second to get stuff done
And then want to change things in the midst of it all
And then change it back
And then add more text into the already massive document
Didn’t you just say no one would read it that carefully anyway? 

I would also like it if
People would stop messing with things that are already finished
Or harping about things that are done but are ‘handled’
No one will see that tiny fingerprint on the corner of the presentation cover
Or honestly mind that it’s there
Are you afraid they’ll disqualify you over a smudge (or your work)?

But mostly, honestly, truly,
I would really like it if
We all just celebrated the fact that today is Friday
And we’re done with the draft
And it snowed outside
And I plan on going sledding this weekend
Among other (exciting) things
Can’t we all just have some fun?

Have a wonderful winter weekend everyone.

Warm regards,
Kellie

New Poetry

This is a new piece for my Poetry section. I decided I would display any new poems here for a few days then move them to the Poetry page, that way you’ll be able to read the new works first before they go off to the Never Never Land of my Poetry page. Organization is key to these things!

Anyway – This piece is an origin work that I did for one of my creative writing classes at UAA. The University of Alaska Anchorage…sigh, my old alma mater. (For those of you who don’t know, that statement was not sentimental but actually done in jest because I JUST graduated last May. It’s an odd feeling not going back to school.).

On to the poem, shall we?

I Am From

I am from Edward and Deborah,
Beatrice and William,
Francis and Elisabeth.
From Staten Island, New York
where pollution litters the air.

I am from pile high plates of food
because there’s no second chances
and veal cutlet parmesan with spaghetti
on Sundays.

I am from wing-nuts, teachers,
soldiers, accountants, and bosses.
From humor, diligence, arguments, 
and happiness.

I am from, “I am learning and I will make 
 mistakes”
and “one for the bucket, one for me.”

I am from Roman Catholics,
Latin masses, small churches,
and two Fathers, both named Leo.

I am from camp-outs, RV trips,
Disney World, Orange Lake, and cruises.
From board games on Thursday,
pizza night on Friday,
and cartoons on Saturday.
From Mom’s spaghetti house,
Ah Sa Won Dad,
and s’more bars made by Jessie.

I am from seizures and colds,
Alzheimer’s and heart problems,
hospitals, prematurity, and C-sections.

I am from optimism and sarcasm
fun and laughter,
from fights and tears and apologies.
And one day I will use these things in my past
to create 
a future all my own.