Tuesday, November 29, 2011

So, I Saw a Ghost. Or a Burglar. Or an Alien.

Remember how I said I have an overactive imagination? Well, let me tell you how my morning experience went from this:

(google images)

to this:

(google images)

Allow me to share the story. The morning started off normally enough, alarm buzzing at 5 a.m. and me blissfully ignoring it until 5:30. I finally drag myself out of bed, go through the morning routine - brush teeth, put in contacts, find clothes from the massive pile of freshly washed laundry, chase Sir Whisky to give him his meds, etc - then tell S good-bye before heading out the door.

I step outside and head down the walk. I look up to see lights on near the woods. A bit strange, but I thought maybe the landlords had turned on the heat lamps in the grove, although it wasn't quite cold enough. But still, not something to worry my sleepy little head about. So I go on my merry way, about to step off the sidewalk in front of the garage when what do I see in the clearing where S keeps his garden?


Me being the calm, cool, collected person that I am, proceeded to throw my lunchbox to the ground, drop my keys in an attempt to spin around while tripping over my own feet, struggle to retrieve them with trembling fingers, and pound my way back inside. I rush back into the bedroom and ask S to walk me to my truck since, you know, I just saw a serial killer in the woods.

It takes about 30 seconds from the time I rush back inside, recruit S, S puts on some clothes, and we walk back outside. The light is gone. All is dark in the woods, all is silent in the early morning. So I tell him what happened, then leave for work, all the while wondering WTF just happened. When I get home, S tries to use logic on me, suggesting maybe it was a flashlight (light was way too big for that) or that it was a shadow of a raccoon elongated in the light (uh, since when are raccoons long and skinny and walking on two legs), or that I was seeing my own shadow (dude, I was standing perfectly still). But ultimately, he agreed that this horrific and fear-inspiring event needs to be handled, and handled now.

Where does creepy alien picture come in? Well, I can't be left alone with these kinds of experiences or images in my head. Nothing good comes of it. The shadow that vaguely resembles a person suddenly morphs into a gangly creature with claws and an alien-esque saunter (think "Signs" but in shadow). And the lights? WTF else can just mysteriously light up the land and then disappear without so much as a sound save for a spaceship - especially when the alien shadow was running away from the light? Damnit. I was almost abducted by an alien shadow, and I'm pretty sure it wasn't a nice one. For those of you who don't know, I'm kind of terrified of evil ghosts and aliens (especially little kid ghosts, they are effing scary). So naturally, what could have very well been a huge bird (like the barred owls here) has become an alien shadow. There really is no other explanation.

The good news? No serial killer was waiting for me when I got home and all our stuff is still here. The bad news? While I don't know what I saw, the fact remains that I saw something. Something was running for the fence, something was in the woods, something caused a light way too big for a flashlight and just the right size for headlights to turn off within a 30-second timespan, and since those lights were the opposite direction of the running shadow, something may have had a partner.

So what does this mean? It means security just got a whole lot tighter at the K & S household. Granted, we're already door-locking, alarm-setting, shoot-first-ask-questions-later kind of folk, but the alien shadow best keep its distance. Taking out a bad guy at 5 am isn't an adventure I look forward to, but I ain't going down without a fight.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

What's to Come

People have told me before that I always look like something major is on my mind, like I'm working through a big problem or situation. Usually, my "thinking face" looks like my "I'm pissed off and gonna kick you in the shins" face, but they are right in that I am unable to turn my mind off.

As a result, I have about 50+ books either started, have notes jotted down, or are swarming about in my head still in the early development stages. It's frustrating because I can't possibly write them all at once so these ideas and characters and stories have nowhere to go. Sometimes I feel like I have a hundred different lives all co-existing inside one imagination and I start to fudge reality with fantasy. Or I just start talking to myself even more so than I already do, and believe me, it's rather embarrassing when S walks in on me having a 4-way conversation with imaginary friends. I'm pretty sure he doesn't believe me when I say I was just singing to myself.

So in an effort to get some of this out, I want to share what's coming soon in new books by yours truly.

Book Three in The Whisper Legacy
I still don't have a title for this one and it's driving me insane. I can't start a book without a title; I just can't. And yet, it's already started. Anyway, I can't say too much about this without giving away what happens in the soon-to-be-released sequel, but suffice it to say, it will be awesome.

Certain characters travel to the land of the second deaths to battle a rising evil spirit while searching for another lost soul killed in Walk the Red Road. Along the way, events from the past come back to haunt the characters and they must battle their biggest enemies in order to preserve the spirit realms. I have visions of characters standing on clifftops, rumbling skies with flashing red lightning, storm clouds hanging low over unsuspecting villagers. It will be a dark book, eerie, and yet, a tale of destiny and loyalty and love.

Book Four in The Whisper Legacy
The title for this one is what the third was originally going to be, but it's not copyrighted yet so I can't share (can't risk any of y'all stealing my title or else I'll have to hunt you down). But, I can tell you what it's about. Book Four will take readers back in time, before Whisper, before Ian, before the events of the second and third book altogether. This one will focus on how the Raven-Eater came to be, how he took over the Land of the Dead, and how Smoke Speaker infiltrated the Fire Tower to save his granddaughter.

The Helping Hands Series
At some point, I promise to get back to this series. I've waited so long because the Helping Hands series is like my baby, and I want to do it justice. After finally being free of the publishing company I have control again, so once The Whisper Legacy is complete I hope to re-release the first two in the series (I'm going to go back and make some updates to the text since I wrote them when I was younger). The third book is written and the fourth is started, so stay tuned! There will be 6 books total, the first 5 chronicalling the lives of Melanie O'Conner and all subsequent Helping Hands over 30-40 years or so, while the last book will tell of how the Hell Hounds came to be in the first place.

The Sour Orange Derby (copyright 2009)
This book will likely be released sometime during The Whisper Legacy's run. It is already written and copyrighted, just needs some fine tuning. It's a relatively quick read for YA and up, and focuses on young Cole Standridge and his family. This is a kind of re-telling of my family, centering on stories my grandfather told us and the joys of childhood magic. Of course, I took some major liberties with the fiction version and will likely have to add in a disclaimer should anyone be worried about fact versus fantasy (hint: my little brother refuses to read it because, well, I kill him off). If you're on my Facebook business/book page, check it soon for a full synopsis.

Random Stories
I have, quite literally, about 5 pages of book titles--just titles--and about 3 pages of notes for other stories. I've also started about 15 stories that  are anywhere from 2 to 50 pages complete. I plan to combine some of these stories into a few ideas I have brewing around in my head:

Dancer story - I don't have much to go on for this story, but I have this image of a dancer stretching her arm out, fingers playing in the light. That's about it. I have a friend with a beautiful picture of her dancing that inspired the vision, and it's been growing from there. The hand thing comes from my own obsession, as I love seeing people's hands. They fascinate me. My top three celebs I can give as an example are Angelina Jolie, Connie Britton from American Horror Story, and the blonde chick from The Walking Dead (I hate her character and hope she is zombie bait in the next episode, but I still love her hands).

Ghost story - Inspired by a friend's story, this one will focus on an old, deceased man who comes back to collect a spirit as it passes. Originally I was thinking he would come back to comfort the one who is passing, but the more the idea simmers in my head the more it takes on a different aproach. So, we shall see what happens.

Peter Pan - Those of you who know me, know of my Peter Pan obsession. I've always wanted to write a story about him but for years just let the fantasy play out in my head. The obsession only grew when I read The Child Thief by Brom, which was recommended to me by a friend, "Pirate" Mary (you know who you are). The darker side of Peter in that book only further inspired my own vision, which is Peter a bit older in more of a dark fantasy role. And if I should imagine myself as the female lead, well, what of it?

Most of these stories are years in the making, with more years required for release. But they are all slowly coming together and I can't wait to share them all with you.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Bittersweet Moment

The time has come for Walk the Red Road to come to a close. My final editing is complete-a bittersweet moment for me. Why? Because while I am extremely excited to have my manuscript finally off to the publishers for its final formatting, I will never again read my story. I think I sat staring at the computer screen for a good 10 minutes before finally clicking "submit files for formatting."

But, I can still look at my super awesome book cover:

I think I've said before that I can't read my manuscripts once in book form. It makes me anxious, like heart-racing, second-guessing, did-I-make-a huge-mistake kind of anxious. So, I just don't do it. I occasionally go back to check something for reference, but I do a word search so I can scan the text as quickly as possible so as to not catch a potential mistake or a "damn, I wish I'd done that differently" section. This means that after publishing, I can only enjoy my story in my head.

Walk the Red Road has now set off on its path to publication, so I'm going to focus on that. It takes about 7 to 10 business days to complete the formatting, so with Thanksgiving this week it will probably be a couple weeks for that to be complete. I will then be sent a proof copy, and if I approve, it will be available immediately for purchase.

So, stay tuned for more release date information! It's time for Ellen to start calling me about being on her show, too. I need to sell me some books! I'm not entirely sure what to do with myself now that I don't have a book to work on, which means I can either start the third Whisper Legacy book (who am I kidding, it's already started), finish a different book that I want to publish, or focus purely on marketing. I think marketing will win out for now, though the third book is already brewing in my head and dreams.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Final Cover

I just realized that I never updated with the finished cover. Many of you have already seen it, but for those who haven't, enjoy!

This is much better from the last version, which was almost entirely pink. Remember?

The difference just in changing the color is pretty amazing. I am very pleased with it and even more excited for the release of Walk the Red Road. I'll be sending the manuscript off tomorrow, so we're getting closer!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Operation: Ellen

With Walk the Red Road coming to a close (FINALLY), it's time again to focus on marketing. I have my usual contacts-radio shows, newspapers, local magazines, friends and family, etc.-but getting the word out these days is all about social media. My friend Samantha convinced me to finally get on Twitter, @KCircelli, and I have a whole 11 tweets! I'm really bad at this.

But, I'm trying to get better. My problem is that I am the worst self-promoter ever. And I've been told that, many times. I don't like to brag and I get uncomfortable when people praise me or my novels. This presents a problem when I have to actually market and sell them. Over the years I've managed to strengthen my speaking skills and even fake confidence during events, but "selling myself," so to speak, is still the one thing I'm really just no good at.

So, thus begins Operation: Ellen.

(I didn't take this pic. Google did.)
Keep reading, because this is a call to you as well!

In an effort to get my name out there, it's time to use social media to my advantage. I've got the website, I've got the Facebook page, and I've got the Twitter. So let's make Twitter work for me. And it's going to work by getting me on the Ellen Degeneres Show to promote my books. I didn't choose Ellen randomly, in case you're wondering. I've been emailing her for years (so has my mom, I think, too) but so far I have been 100% ignored :(. But hey, let's see if Tweets are ignored too! Ellen was always one of the few people able to put a smile on my face when watching comedies, and I admired her strength growing up when facing my own battles. I wish I had her energy and outlook on life, and confidence to just get up and dance (I don't think anyone has ever seen me dance outside of S and I's first dance at the wedding, and that was it).

I think Ellen and I would get along. In fact, I can guarantee it. We'll put on one hell of a show and she will love me as her guest. She just doesn't know it yet, and that's where Operation: Ellen comes in. I am going to Tweet to her until I get a response, even if it's "Dude, stop trying to get on my show! Ain't gonna happen!"

And now I put the call out to my fans and friends. If you're on Twitter, let Ellen know how awesome it would be to have me as a guest! Just Tweet @TheEllenShow and see what happens. This is my attempt at shameless self-promotion to finally make something happen for myself. I feel completely stupid for even thinking I have a chance, but you know what, sometimes you have to make that blind leap of faith. It's not called an awfully big adventure for nothing!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Cover Art Process

Walk the Red Road is getting closer and closer to completion. By this time next week I expect to be completely done with the manuscript, and I'm hoping to have the cover finished by then as well. I'm kind of in transition at the moment and have to wait on my editors to finish reading before I can complete the final revision, so I'm in a weird stage where I have nothing to do yet a long way to go. I'm kind of anxious because I don't like not having a book to work on. They say idle hands are the devil's playthings or some such crap, and that's the case with me. I even made a huge bowl of mixed cut veggies I don't even eat the other day for S because my hands needed something to do.

I could start the third book, but I'm trying to wait a bit so I don't get ahead of myself. I want to focus on Walk the Red Road until it's published so that has all of my attention. Also, I went through a mini-crisis earlier in the week when I realized that the book title I've had planned for the third for like 2 years now, is actually perfectly suited for the fourth book. So now I have no title for the third and I can't work on a titleless book. It's just a weird thing I have. I need a title.

Anyway, since I can't work on the text, I'll talk about the cover! As I mentioned before, my friend Red designed the art based on my crappy sketch and man, did she do an awesome job. She recently sent me her sketches (there were more variations than what are below, but these are the basic images and the others are the same images with lighting and color changes).

I thought it would be cool to show y'all how much work went into the process, how awesome Red is, and how these concepts turned into the final cover. Now, I don't actually have the final cover since it's still being worked on, but I do have the essential final form. So, enjoy!

Paintings all lined up. You can see the many changes Whisper went through.

The second and third are on canvas board. The rest are watercolor paper (I think).

This was initially my first choice. I love the look of the ink sketching.

As you already know, this is the one I ended up going with.

After finishing the painting, Red scanned it to the computer and did some alterations. Once I got it, I did some of my own changes, namely some color changes and I removed a tattoo that I decided I didn't like (well, I removed part of the tattoo in the center of her back). A designer that I know added the text.

So, after I sent my final image in, the publishing company sent me two cover concepts. They are below. The left side is the back cover, middle is the spine, and right is the front cover.

Initially, this was my first choice. I love the contrast between the white and reds, and the way the trees wrap around the entire text. I also like the text on the spine and the title text. The more I looked at it though (and hearing feedback from friends), I decided that I don't like that the eye is immediately drawn to the title, rather than the image (which I wanted to be bigger). I also don't like the back cover layout, but it can't be changed due to the trees. Speaking of the trees, while I love the wrapping, I think the fadeout into the white could be cleaner.

This is the second cover concept, and the one I am going with. I love the back cover layout and the fact that the image is so prominent on the front. Some feedback responses stated that the title isn't prominent enough, but I'm okay with that. For me, the title isn't what draws me to a book; it's the image. I'm pretty confident that people will see the awesome image of Whisper and be drawn to that. And besides, it's not like the title is hidden, right? Ultimately though, this cover was the one that S, my mom, my dad, and Red chose. Their opinions mean a lot to me, and since Red is the artist I like knowing that the cover reflects her vision as well.

The changes I requested are relatively minor. I asked that the text on the spine from cover 1 be used instead. I don't like the stylish text for my name on this second one. I also asked that the back cover, spine, and fade around the front border be darker, more like the darker red color in the trees. The pink is okay, but I think people will be more likely be drawn to a darker red.

And, just for fun, Sir Whisky enjoyed playing in the box Red sent the art in. I'm not sure, but I think he may be drunk.