Author Archives: Kalen

About Kalen

I'm a writer who loves art of all kinds including books, paintings, and movies. I also have an affection for chocolate and pizza. I hope to create great art myself. It's my dream.

Plot Holes and Questionable Details: Why We Need Them

Plot can be a problem for many an author, including myself.

When I first started writing, I thought there should be no plot holes and that stories should make sense. It’s why we have editors and beta readers. However, once I got into the thick of writing, I realized that some plot holes and wonky details are necessary.

There’s an art to plot. You can’t explain every detail. Not only is it tedious for the reader, it’s also easy to write oneself into a corner. Added to that, most supernatural stories wouldn’t make sense without a few questionable details and purposeful blanks.

For example, I’ve been watching The Originals, which has a huge wonky detail. It’s about a group of creatures obsessed with Pic from Unsplash william-recinos-194213taking over the French Quarter. Before I started writing my own novels, I would have gotten frustrated with everyone’s refusal to move somewhere else, and would have stopped watching. IT’S NOT THAT HARD TO MOVE! PEOPLE DO IT ALL THE TIME.

As a writer, I know some things have to be written in like loyalty to location. If not, why would there be a show? Everyone would have moved on, been happy, and we’d all be watching families eating dinner and smiling. Not the most entertaining. So instead, the creatures of the night cling to history and bloodlines as a reason to die, repeatedly, as opposed to taking over Paris or New York like any sensible creature would do.

The deliberate plot holes are one of the hardest things to decide. What details matter and which ones don’t. I haven’t perfected it myself.  But, whenever I add a detail, I think to myself: Is this necessary? What does it add to the story? How confusing would the story be without it?

When I have backed myself into a corner or gotten bogged down in details, I know I have gone too far. Probably over-explained.

For instance, in The Nightmare Before Christmas, there are numerous questionable details and a plot hole or two. We do not know how Jack got back from Christmastown–how do those doors work?  Jack doesn’t know what snow is, but sings about it. The kids were easily able to follow Jack’s directions to the mysterious, previously unknown holiday doors (125 trees forward, avoid the diagonal ones despite this being a forest, and 8 trees left), but could not remember which door to use. Jack manages to deliver Christmas gifts quickly enough to cause chaos despite having none of Santa’s magic. And no one thinks to look for Jack after shooting him down. Can he die? He’s a skeleton, but Halloween town was concerned over his “death.” Speaking of which, I have no idea how no one knew of the other towns, but managed to conjure an image of them when Jack was Sandy Claws. How do those doors work again?

A writer could think of ways to fill in those plot holes, but it would be a terrible story if they did. Imagine a movie where every detail was explained: it’d be three times as long and dull with no action pushing it forward. I love the movie as is.

I have a newfound appreciation for writers with questionable yet intriguing details, and outstanding plot holes.

Happy Writing!

 

Advertisements

New Start

June was crazy with Tapestry edits. That round of editing has come to an end. Yay! One more round to go! In the meantime, I need to start another project.

With each new project, I learn more about my process of creating. For a week, I take a break and relax. The second and third weeks I think about what I want to do, and how I want the new story to go. I often look for inspiration around me. I think about life, read books, watch movies. Somewhere around the fourth week, I’m ready to write!

The next part is the hardest part: jumping back into the writing schedule. The imagining, creating, learning and research part is magical. It’s fun and laid back. The actual writing part is where the technical aspects and will power enter into the equation.

I have decided to continue on with my fairy tale novella. It was originally a part of Tapestry as a short story, but I thought I could expand the story substantially so I put it aside.

I have read what I wrote all those years ago. I knew it wouldn’t be perfect, but wow! I titled something “meet cute,” but left out the part where the characters actually talk to each other. So far, I have two characters barely acknowledging each other at a coffee place. That was a laugh out loud moment for me. Apparently, when my ideas are flying around, I write whatever inspires me and skip the rest.

I’m so excited to write the rest of the story…in my mind. Now, it’s time to actually do it! 😛

anthony-gotter-670.jpg*(The picture I chose for this blog is a little hint about the novella. I thought it would be fun. The picture is by Anthony Gotter from Unsplash.)

 


Mad Dash

My social media and blog progress has fallen short of my goal this season.  I think I’m two blogs short, and I haven’t posted anything on my social media in weeks.  I explained a little, in my last post in April, why I fell short.

My birthday was at the end of March, and I did spend some time with my family.

I also did a quick life revamp. I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned. I bought an adorable mirror for my wall. It’s a baroque mirror; I feel like a nicer version of the wicked queen. It’s great.

I started my diet again. It’s been up and down. It involves a lot more cooking and time.

Lastly, I’ve been working on Tapestry. I’ve done a ton of edits, and still have a ton more to do. However, I have a deadline. And not one of my imaginary, hope-I-meet-it deadlines. I have a friend who is beta reading my work. She has some stuff she has to handle by mid-June, and won’t be able to help me again until the end of the summer. I want to finish all the edits on the stories before she’s unavailable.

Editing away!

So far, it’s been okay. I have enough distance to edit properly; I feel like I’m really improving the stories. I have gotten half of them to her. However, I need to finish the other half in under two weeks.

I have also thought about redoing the cover for Tapestry. I don’t want to start from scratch, but I do want to make improvements. I’ll see how I feel about it in a couple of weeks.

And I want to create covers for my friend’s short story series. So I need to squeeze in some meetings about that in the upcoming weeks as well. (Which I am very happy to do.) This is all to say, wow am I busy. I am enjoying the work, though.

I will try to do better with the social media. It’s been hard to get back into the swing of it.

I have had more blog ideas. I have written them down. I’m excited to write them. Hopefully, by the end of the year, I can squeeze in the two blogs I missed during this craziness.

Happy spring everyone! Hope it’s going well for you.


Here, There, Everywhere

The last couple of months have been hectic.

After Campfire Stories, I needed a little break. I relaxed, and gave myself time to think about what I wanted to do next. I also bought a few books! 😀

Shortly after my break, I got to visit with my aunts and my uncle, which was amazing. I learned a fun and crazy card game. We stayed up all night playing. I won a few times, but I had a pro on my team.michal-parzuchowski-43274

Pretty soon, I will get to see a different branch of the family tree. I hope that goes equally as well. I’ve been running around trying to prepare for it. I bought an adorable bathing suit. I also attempted to clean.

While it’s been tons of fun, it’s also been distracting. I haven’t gotten much work done. I tend not to work when I have guests, so my break lasted a lot longer than I thought it would.  Plus, it takes a moment for me to get back on track each time I change my schedule or have a lot of stuff going on.

After this next visit, my schedule should be clear for awhile. I hope I can focus during the second half of April, and finally get Tapestry close to finished by the end of May. I already marked up one of the stories.

I’m super excited to get back to work. I’m going to try to squeeze in another story before the impending family visit. Who knew I could miss work? The feeling is probably fleeting, so I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts.

 


Campfire Stories: Nearing the End

Campfire Stories is going to be published soon! Everything is complete including my new author biography. The group is entering the marketing part of the process.

Of course, I will be announcing all new information on my Facebook Page and Twitter account.

I’m feeling all sorts of emotions: surprised, happy, hopeful, and a little disappointed. First and foremost, I’m happy we were able to put this book together. Previously, I was worried about the project falling apart.  I am also happy about everything I’ve learned and been able to accomplish. This has been a great experience. I hope the marketing end is just as educational and fun. I’ve gotten slightly more familiar with Mailchimp already. I hope there are lots of sales, that people like my work, and I gain readers.

The slight disappointment has nothing to do with the Campfire Stories project. I had wanted Tapestry published by the time Campfire Stories was published. I have fallen short of this goal. However, there is a silver lining.

Campfire Stories has taught me what goes into creating a book from start to finish. It took five people nearly a year. Granted, we were doing other things in our lives, but putting a book together is not as simple or easy in practice as it is in theory. I understand now why I have fallen short of my goals with Tapestry. They were steep goals. I will make better ones going forward.

I want to give a huge thank you to my Campfire Story partners:

Ansley Ashe

Jill Marcotte

Lucy Jayne

Allison Gammons

fdywsfh8n6y-rachel-walkerI published this blog a couple weeks early. It was ready, and I thought it would be a good Valentine’s treat for my readers :).

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!


Campfire Covers

I took on the role of cover designer for my Campfire Stories collaboration. This was my first time designing for a group of people. I had a few doubts.  I’m not an expert photography editor, or an illustrator with ten years experience.

However, I have some skills. I’ve taken a few art classes. I’ve spent many hours looking at covers, movie posters, etc. I’ve experimented a lot with photography in the past, and was a part of a photography group. I’ve used Gimp, PicMonkey, and Paint to create different pictures. Experimenting helps a lot with the learning process.

Plus, I decided to volunteer for the job because I enjoy making covers. It takes awhile. Sometimes I spend over 8 hours just experimenting. Nonetheless, in comparison to writing a book, 8 hours feels like instant gratification. I also love visual arts.

Initially, I spoke with the group leader about what kind of cover to make. I wanted to make something with a campfire. She wanted the lettering to be a little girly, which made sense for our concept. We didn’t want to make a horror cover, because that’s not what we wrote. The cover should represent the writing, and our anthology has different genres within it. There’s horror, fairy tales, and even a tall tale. cover-campfire3

I showed the group leader some pictures, and we picked out a couple. I ended up using her favorite: a campfire in the woods. I had to use a big, bold font; I did not want the title to get lost in the background (right). It’s amazing how long I spent looking at fonts. I have a new appreciation for fonts.

cover-campfire-8I also did additional mark ups with the font the group leader suggested (left).

At this point, I posted  5 of the cover designs for the rest of the group to see. A different approach was suggested. I had a conversation with another group member to get an idea of what she was looking for in a cover.

This time I went with a more minimalist approach. This cover set was faster to put together, because I did not use any filters. I wanted an elegant font this time. I picked a couple cursive fonts and a couple funky fonts to give the group options.

 

The group voted this month! And the final cover is:

dark-campfire-cover2

 

Working with a group was an interesting experience. It’s different trying to design something for someone else. It involves more than just my vision. However, it was fun and I enjoyed the process. Everyone was kind and cooperative. I hope it’s everything they wanted, and that we sell lots of books.

Thank you to the photographers who put their work in public domain.

Photo credits in order of appearance:

http://all-free-download.com/free-photos/download/campfire-celebration-fire_235678.html

https://unsplash.com/search/campfire?photo=rLm4Wq96h_0

 

 


NYE 2016!

It’s time for 2017!

I’m excited, and have so many plans for the new year. However, before I get into this year’s resolutions, I’ll write a quick update on my resolutions from last year.

I did finish doing the French Duolingo! However, I am not fluent. Or close. I finished the Duolingo course last winter, but continued practicing until this month when my 426 day streak ended. Duolingo is great, but I feel immersion in France would make being fluent much easier.

I did not publish anything new. Tapestry has been sent to a beta reader. It will be published this year. I am determined. My mindset surrounding my writing has changed. I learned so much about editing. I will not hold on to a story as long as I held on to Tapestry again. I talked about this a little bit in my last blog post.

I started a few new writing projects, and I added more words to an existing project. Goal accomplished.

Last but not least, I lost weight this year. I still have more weight to lose, but I am happy that I am on the right path.

Like the years before, this year’s resolutions are similar. I will publish. I will continue to exercise, and lose more weight.

I am done with French for now. Maybe another year.

I am adding a new resolution. I want post more on social media. It’s an important part of marketing, and I want to get better at it.

Reflecting on 2016 is satisfying. I did a lot of what I wanted to do. I’ve come a long way.

I can’t wait to accomplish my goals for 2017!

Do you have any resolutions this year?

firework unsplash.jpg

Happy New Year!

Be safe.


Campfire Stories

Sorry this blog is a few weeks late. I skipped my November NaNoWriMo blog because I felt there was nothing new to write about it. I didn’t want to write the same blog over and over again. Instead, I decided to do two December blogs. The second one will be published on the 31st of December.

I mentioned before that I’m working on a collaboration. I am part of a group of writers that will be putting out a short story collection. The collection is called Campfire Stories.

The authors had to create a story inspired by a campfire. However, it was not strict. Each person could go in any direction they wanted: horror, tall tale, legend, etc.

We agreed to submit at least one story, and edit each other’s work.

I ended up submitting two stories. One is  a campy, horror story.  The other is about a ghost.

Round one of editing happened during October, so I had my editing notes going into November.

I gave up on NaNoWriMo early this year, and worked on my second drafts. I resubmitted the stories a week and half ago. My fellow collaborators have already read my work, and they gave me new notes.

It’s interesting to see what someone else thinks of my writing. I’m always excited to see the comments. I also love that four different people have read my work. They each have their own opinions and comments, which shows how differently readers can interpret something.

The editing process is so much faster this way. I used to want to hang on to my work until I felt it was perfection. However, it’s a lot easier to get a story to perfection with a critique partner.

Additionally, I created covers for the collection. I hope my collaborators like my work. I enjoyed doing it.

While there have been delays, we are mostly on schedule. Campfire Stories should be done by the end of January. 😀

I liked participating in this, and I would like to do something similar in the future. I’d love to run my own contest one day.

Have any of you submitted stories anywhere, or worked on a collaboration? I’d love to hear how other people’s experiences turned out.

Merry Christmas! Hope your holidays are fun and filled with joy!


Halloween: Jenna Marbles Edition

Halloween is here! And I have decided on my costume.

As I was thinking of the makeup I have but haven’t used for ages, an idea struck me. I will dress up as Jenna Marbles! I can experiment with my makeup, I should have something to wear in my closet, and I’ve been a fan for years. I don’t know why I haven’t thought of this before.

Especially because this year I have been nostalgic for Space Hooker Jenna. Not that I’m claiming I can pull it off. My final look may be a mixture of Space Hooker, normal Jenna, and drunk Jenna makeup challenge. I’ll do my best. I never have worn makeup the way Jenna does, so it’ll be an experience. I’ll have to pass on the lashes as I don’t want anything glued to my eye, but I will rediscover my hair chalk.

I’ll dig up my leggings. And all of my jewelry. Like Jenna, I love the 90s. I have hoops and chokers. Hope the chokers still fit. I already found a great shirt! The final look should be a mixture of the pictures down below (jewelry, colored hair, and laid-back happiness if all else fails). I didn’t find a drunk makeup picture, but you can Google that if you want.

 

*These photos are Jenna’s. The links are connected to her page, which is where I found them.

Jenna is also notorious for not cleaning. I love it. In this way, we are kindred spirits; so all of my selfie’s shall be authentic to my costume ;). I’m excited!

If you want to see my final look, I’ll be posting pictures on my Instagram.

What are you doing for Halloween?

 

 


Writing Outside of my Zone

Not only has the summer flown by plunging me into the fall, September has come and gone as well. During these months, I went out of my comfort zone and wrote in a different genre.

The idea came to me when two different people asked me to participate in group projects. It seemed like a good idea, so I said yes. I wanted to keep my style, but felt horror would be the best way to go for the stories. I have never written a horror story before; although, my work does have a dark vibe to it.

I watched horror movies to get into the horror writing mood. While I’ve seen one or two, they’re not my normal pick. I found ones I liked, and ones I hated. However, I was inspired by them all. I came up with two good ideas (one for each group), and went to work.

Surprisingly, it has been a struggle to write two short stories. It took awhile to come up with relevant ideas. That was the hardest part. I underestimated how hard it is to come up with an idea out of thin air instead of using an idea that has spent months bopping around in my mind.

forest face fog

Once I had the ideas, it should have been easy from there. Instead, it took ages for me to get what I wanted written down. Part of it was nerves. I want the stories to be great, but I know they will need lots of editing. I hope the groups will not be disappointed with my first drafts. Especially because I struggled to make my sentences tense enough. Horror involves jumps and scares. That’s not my forte.

This is also my first time working with other artists. I was nervous about sending out an informal contract to make sure I knew what I was agreeing to. The problem with contracts is that they can be too detailed or not detailed enough. I did my best.

Sadly, one of the collaborations fell a part. It happens. I am happy that I tried, and got to know another artist a little better. I’m still a part of the other group, but I’m not sure if we’ll make it all the way to a finished anthology. I hope we do. I also hope to improve my horror writing with the group’s feedback. We should be exchanging stories shortly. I’ll keep you guys updated.

Have you ever collaborating with other artists on a project? I’d love to hear about your experiences!