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

A Random Monday Post Appears

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Reflection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Warm regards,
Kellie

Eight Reasons Why I Write

Hello all!

This week I’ve been doing things like getting ready for Write to Publish 2016—brainstorming cool ideas to pursue in January—and thinking about my novel Finding Hekate more—brainstorming marketing ideas and review places—and napping. There’s been a lot of napping. And watching Critical Role. It’s the week after finals, don’t judge!

I meant to write more this week, but I didn’t. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I wrote a 20-page (double-spaced) paper on fanfiction for finals week. Maybe it’s because I wrote a 9-page (single-spaced) transmedia marketing plan for a digital teen scavenger hunt for finals week. Maybe it’s because I didn’t plan time per day to write. I just know I didn’t write.

But, because of Suddenly Jamie’s post last week, I did wonder why I write. Here are some reasons:

  1. Because I love characterization.
    • I’ve always loved creating the characters. Ever since I was little I always wanted to figure characters out, their names, eye color, hair color, backgrounds, family, friends, who they are, what they want. It was fun to create them, to put a part of myself into them or to be something I could never be. Now, I know from all those motivational posters that I can be anyone I want to be. But a dragon hunter? Technically, I can’t be that. A woman who had to kill to survive? I really don’t wanna be that. But I do want to write about it.
  2. Because I love worldbuilding.
    • Worldbuilding, like characterization, is another one of my favorites. Creating a whole new world, crafting the rules, the customs, the cultures of these new peoples. Of these new races. The history and lore of the world is in my mind (or in my notes) even if the readers never know about it.
  3. Because it makes me feel powerful, in a weird, strange, awkward kind of way.
    • It may (or may not?) be apparent, but I like creating things. Crafting worlds and characters out of nothing. It makes me feel powerful, in a way. I’ve created numerous worlds and characters, for short stories, flash fictions, poems, novels. The readers may never know it all, and probably shouldn’t know it all, but I know it. And that’s a cool feeling.
  4. Because I want to get better at it.
    • Writing is…overly romanticized in some ways. When you say “writer” we all get this image of a figure hunched over a computer in the midst of a creative breakthrough surrounded by coffee and stacks of paper and cats. (Okay, I added the cats part.) In other ways, the romance is spot on, like when you get a burst of creativity. When you write all night long (or all day). When you get that flash of a character or of a world or of some badass weapon this or that character really should use. But it’s not easy by any means. It takes work. And a good portion of why I write is so I can become a better writer.
  5. Because I want to get better at it.
    • I need to get better at it. I need to hone my craft! Practice makes perfect, you know? The way I figure it, the best is yet to come.
  6. Because I want to get better at it.
    • Yes, I know. Three times. But it bears repeating. I want to—no, I will get better at this craft of mine.
  7. Because becoming an author is a dream of mine.
    • It’s a dream of mine to be published. And right now, that dream is coming true! But I don’t want to be a one-hit-wonder. I want to publish a bunch of books. This duology is just the start!
  8. Because it’s fun!
    • Some people build things. Some people compose music. Some people teach kids. There is a whole world of things people can have fun doing. For me, it’s writing!

There are many other reasons why I write, but these are some pretty good ones! So, why do you write? Or, why do you do the thing you’re most passionate about? Let me know in the comments!

Have a safe and happy holiday season!
Warm regards,
Kellie

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

WritingHack: Submitting Your Work

So, these past few months I’ve been cataloging the submissions for Cirque, a literary journal based out of Anchorage, Alaska. I was an intern with them for a year before graduate school so I’ve done this before. (I’ve leveled up to Editorial Assistant, though, so that’s pretty cool, yeah?)

It’s a fun job! Basically I check the submission email and catalogue any submissions we get based on genre (Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Art). I update this giant table with all the necessary information, save the work in a different folder, and follow up with the writers and artists if necessary.

Now, most of the submissions I receive are normal. I’d say over 95% are good. The writers do everything correct, attach all the right things, and generally make me feel wonderful about the community I’ve immersed myself in.

The other 5% though? Well, they are the…interesting bunch. And because they are…interesting…and make silly little (or possibly intentional?) errors, the editors might not take them seriously.

In hopes of derailing any future mistakes by my writer friends who may wish to submit to journals (Cirque or otherwise), here are some things you should watch out for:

Follow the Guidelines
Be sure to read the submission guidelines. Every journal has them up on their website so read them, understand them, and follow them. If you have a question, let the editors know! If the submission says they only accept a Word document or a cut/paste work into the body of the email, do that. It does not mean they will accept PDFs. It does not mean they will accept already designed poems with boarders and flowers. It does not mean they will accept pictures, unless specifically in the Art category. And it certainly does not mean they will accept a picture taken of your desktop of an open Word document displaying the poem you wish to submit. (I laughed at this…and then cried a little.)

Title Your Work
This one is self-explanatory. Okay, all of these are, but this one especially so. Title your work. Title it something that’s connected to the work in some way. Or title it anything, really. Just name the freaking work. Don’t tell the editors that “This has no title,” and they can pick whichever string of words from the piece they want to for the title. Doing so will not end happily. (Granted I’m a nice person and picked a good string of words, but it could’ve easily gone downhill.)

Listen to the Reply
When the editor (or in my case, the editorial assistant) gets back to you and asks you for a 100-word bio, they mean a 100-word bio. And saying “sorry for going over the 100” is bull because you clearly went over the word limit intentionally and is cause enough for them (me) to reply, “No worries, we can always cut it down for length.” While we can, and will, do this, doing so only gives the editors more work. Listen to the reply. Listen to what they say. If they say 100 words, give them 100 words (or less)!

Write Professional Emails
I’ve saved this one for last because it ticked me off the most. When writing your email, be sure to use a professional tone. If you start off the email with “Babe” and end it with “What more do you want?” it’s going to taint your submission (if not get it completely rejected for unprofessionalism). These editors have your work literally in their hands—they can just as easily delete the submission if they want to. If you don’t take the submission process seriously, the editors won’t take you seriously either.

So, fellow writers, be part of the 95%. Please. If you’re part of the 5% it’ll dampen your chances of getting in and will just give the editors something to buzz about around the water cooler. And not in a good way.

[FYI: If you’d like to submit to Cirque, submissions closes on September 21st! See here for details.]

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

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