Thursday, August 29, 2013

Alys as a Happy Thought

So while there was some seriously rough emotions I had to get through to finish Alys, and while it was rather sad to have to say goodbye to those characters... There is a great relief and joy in finishing.

And since this week is so crazy, I wanted to share that happy thought with you by giving you a chance to download it for free today through Monday.

This book may have been a rollercoaster for me but it was a true labor of love. From the research that went into it to the purely cathartic feeling of writing about Charlie... There is a lot of me in this book. And while every part of it may not be happy--I'm happy with it. And that... is honestly a huge leap for me as a creator. Being able to step back, know that nothing is ever truly finished, but being content with what you've created--being ready to send it out to meet the world.

So my gift to you this weekend is a chance to let it introduce itself at no cost to you.

http://www.amazon.com/Alys-Terra-Mirum-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B00EQWPL3Y/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1377796091&sr=8-2&keywords=Kiri+Callaghan

Go on. Say hello.


Don't have a Kindle? No worries, got ya covered with their free reading app: http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000493771

Monday, August 26, 2013

Fan Expo, Fiction and Fabulous People!

Holy crap, is it Monday?

I need a triple-grande "back to real life" latte please.

Okay. Let's re-cap.

I arrived in Buffalo, New York early Thursday morning and was picked up by the fabulous Blake Northcott so I could be smuggled--err--driven across the border. When we planned this exhibition it was about 300 dollars more to fly directly to Toronto, so you can likely understand my reasoning for this method.

However there was one factor that we didn't anticipate.

Every time we attempted to get on the highway that would take us back up to good ol' Canuckistan, we hit a police road block.

Clearly they were trying to keep me from leaving the country.

An off-handed comment was made, "Geeze, is Obama in town or something?"

Turns out yes, yes he was.

So we were stuck until about 11am... on the outskirts of Buffalo.

Classy Dames
But then we were off and zooming to pick up our tickets and to get gussied up for a fabulous dinner at the CN Tower!

The CN Tower is kinda like if the Seattle Space Needle and New York's Empire State Building had a baby tower... that grew up to be a really big tower that both parents kinda just shake their head at, bewildered where all the height came from.

Anyway, atop the CN Tower is the 360 restaurant which is very similar to the Skycity restaurant in Seattle--in that it's a round room with many windows that rotates for a full panoramic view of the city. Oh, and they're both ridiculously expensive.

Super tasty though.

The food was amazing (steak om nom nom) and we were seated RIGHT at sunset and it was gorgeous and breathtaking and a perfect way to relax before the crazy that was going to ensue come the following morning at the Expo.

After dinner we mosied to the observation deck and I stood on the glass floor and vaguely wondered if someone on the ground could see up my dress. Considering everyone looked like ants below this seems very unlikely but these are the things one has to worry about.

Blake with the Arena Mode merch and Alys posters!
We were lucky enough to be able to share a table with the amazingly hilarious and talented Matthew Mohammed, the writer and creator of "Black Bastard" comics. If you ever see him at a convention, I seriously encourage you to stop by his table, hear his pitch and pick up an issue. Not only is his writing clever, he's one of those people who you could probably just spend hours talking to. Awesome guy and Blake and I would have been truly up a river without him for a table.

Blake was promoting the first novel in her new hit series, Arena Mode and I was stirring up hype for Alys with some free posters.

I actually spent a good portion of Friday half-crouched over EDI and finishing up formatting edits since for the first time I didn't have the ability to be working on anything else (vlogs, audio book etc etc).

Side Note: Between work and PAX, I'm going to be knuckling down on more audio book recording and editing, so I will likely be a little out of touch this week and next. Things need to get done, you know?

Speaking of getting things done, however...

ALYS IS UP!

No, really, it's up on Amazon. I'm not even kidding. You see that picture of the cover in the sidebar? That's totally legitimate. Go ahead, click on it, it works!

I can't even begin to tell you how awesome it was to finally send that out into the world. Well... it was a grab bag of emotions, really.

First I was really apprehensive because I know, like with all books, there was bound to be errors that both me and my editors missed. While this is something common even with traditionally published books, Independent authors tend to get more flak for it.

Second, there's always this kind of mourning period when you finish reading a book. I've found it's very much the same when writing one. And the longer it takes you to finish writing that book, the harder it is to let it go. I would never write those characters again--not like that, anyway. Not that story. That journey was done. And I knew I was going to miss them. And on some level it felt as if I'd lost my brother all over again because of how that book had helped me get through those first few months.

Rev. Dave Johnson swag
It's a weird process, really. And I'd like to tell you I'm planning on taking a break to mourn or decompress but I'd be lying. I guess I just don't work that way. I'm not comfortable with stillness. I've a book to record and vlogs to film and once Arena Mode is shipped off, I'll be diving into a new story because that's how the mental illness that is my creative process works, apparently.

Until then, however, I will be promoting Alys (because that job is never done) and working on getting the print version out. I am talking to a few artists about including some concept art in the back of the hard-copy. If this is something you would possibly be interested in contributing to, let me know. All chosen artists will have their full information advertised in the book, all credit given etc etc. Just would be a little bonus for those who decided to get the hard copy rather than the digital download. And on the subject of the digital download, if you don't have a Kindle, you can download the kindle app for free here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000426311

Also, I'll be running a promo this week to celebrate Alys' release which will include a few days where you can download the book for free! Because I love you and I know sometimes it's hard when you're strapped for cash to justify even the little unnecessary expenses.

After the promo run is OVER, I will be formatting it for other e-readers such as nooks as well as getting everything organized for the print version which will, with any luck, be releasing in late September.

Saturday was a blur of talking to folks about both Blake's book and mine--by the end of it I had a really solid pitch for her book and was feeling mighty proud of myself.

We hung out with the Rev. Dave Johnson and got to sport some Devil Pig Studio swag on his behalf and take pictures with some of his epic artwork.

Sachie and I posing with the lovely Jessie Wionzek
And I got to attend my first Geek & Sundry meetup! I've never actually been to a meetup where I was one of the folks people were meeting... so I was admittedly not entirely sure what to do (I had my camera so I got vlog footage--it seemed appropriate).

I met some amazing people, including, of course, the adorable Sachie and kickass Paul Mason. Meeting both of them was really heartwarming and kind of made it really sink in that "Holy crap, I'm part of the Geek & Sundry family now".

I will probably continue to have this realization for the next few months. It's a little bewildering. And by bewildering I mean awesome. But also bewildering. Awewildering?

Sure, it's a word. Ship it. It's a thing now.

This week a zillion things are happening all at once so things may be a bit scattered til both PAX Prime (Yep, I'll be wandering around there!) and the audiobook calms down but know that I'm always thinking of you guys.

Be sure to check out Alys if you can, it would certainly mean a lot to me.

Monday, August 19, 2013

All Quiet on the Whimsy Front

Holy cow, is it really only a few days until Toronto Fan Expo? Eesh.

So I'm going to be ridiculously sleep deprived the next couple of days. Basically thanks to moving last week I'm behind on the work I was supposed to get done this weekend (and burning a hole in my filming backdrop didn't help--satin is evil and so is my iron!). So basically here is what it comes down to.

I have two priority obligations, the first being that I finish editing my G&S episode so I can hop on a plane on Wednesday and head off to Toronto Fan Expo. Film. Editing. Takes. FOREVER. The second priority is finishing an audiobook recording for the amazing Blake Northcott and her book Arena Mode.

What this means: this blog is probably going to be rather quiet this week. I may try to write blog entries while I'm sitting at the booth and then upload them when I have wifi access--assuming that wifi at the convention will be ridiculously expensive as it always is.

So I hope you'll forgive that I'm going to skip out on my blogly duties in order to make sure I make my deadlines. Though based on how sleep deprived I am now, who knows how coherent those blog posts will be. Expect sleep-drunk tweets.

What this also means is that this week's W&W will likely be late. It's all filmed but depending how long it takes to edit Kiriosity, it may not make an appearance until Sunday or even Monday. So... same amount of videos, just possible more waiting time.

I really strive to keep to a schedule and I'm sorry for not being able to keep it this week--things just got a little too overwhelming between my dayjob and what I strive to create for you.

I'm hoping to finish polishing Alys while at the convention since I don't need internet in order to finish formatting etc and it may be available for download by the end of the convention or at latest, the end of the month. I will a limited amount of posters of the cover at our booth (P140, Blake and I are sharing with the good folks of Rorschach Press) that I will be giving out at Toronto Fan Expo.

I may also have some cool Geek & Sundry swag to give out at the con...

You guys are amazing, looking forward to meeting some of you at either Toronto Fan Expo or PAX Prime!

XOXO,

Kiri

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Lara Project: Vocal Health

So since Lara first graced the scene she's been sporting a ridiculously epic and sexy attribute: her voice. Her first voice actress, Shelley Blond (1996) had a voice that was described as "sexier than Kathleen Turner as Jessica Rabbit" by the New York Times.

So why is this important? On my quest for ultimate badassery, vocal health is extremely important. I do theater and film, I do public speaking, I vlog, I sing, and currently I'm recording an audio-book for the amazing Blake Northcott. That can put a TON of strain on your vocal cords.

Or heck, even just being at a concert/a convention or anything that requires you to speak longer and/or louder than you're accustomed will put you at risk of vocal strain.

So how do we go about avoiding this to keep our voices smexy?

Steps for everyone to follow:


  • Stay hydrated! Most people don't drink enough water (yes, WATER). Soda or booze doesn't count as both dehydrate your body.
  • Avoid known irritants such as smoke or fumes.
  • If you yell, do so from your lower register/diaphragm. Unsupported loud belting (where the energy is pushing from your throat) is a really quick way to damage your vocal cords and cause a sore throat.
  • Avoid sharing drinks/food if you can (you know this)
Steps for performers to follow:

  • All of the above
  • Vocal exercises! Even if you aren't a singer, you should try to incorporate some kind of vocal exercise into your daily routine. When you're in the shower, before bed, when you're driving to work--whenever is easiest for you. It's one of the easiest things to do because you can do it pretty much everywhere but it's also the one we seem to easiest forget. Push your vocal range, you do not want ot lose it. That's part of your livelihood. 
  • Avoid dairy products the day of a performance. If you have issues with casein (and most people don't' know if they do or not) this will cause phlegm to build up in the throat (not fun). If you don't have an issue with casein, the fat content of that dairy product can thicken the phlegm and the more phlegm you have to deal with, the harder vocal performance of any kind tends to be. Unless your Phoebe Buffay. Then you just sound sexier.
I've been bringing a mug of warm tea with me to record. The hot liquid helps soothe any irritation I may be gaining by long recording hours, along with the little bit of honey I add to it. Also a little bit of lemon because this helps cut down any mucus or phlegm that may be building due to prolonged use etc etc.

This weekend is pretty dull for me, I'm working to finish recording and polishing Alys before Toronto Fan Expo next week. I will be done with the recording by the end of August at the latest but it's taking up so much of my time right now that I really want to be done with it as soon as possible--while still maintaining good quality, mind you. Oh shoot, I think I also have to record two videos this weekend. Eek.

I'll catch you guys on Monday!

XOXO

Kiri



Thursday, August 15, 2013

Happy Thought Thursday!

It's that time of the week again, that day where we focus on the happy, warm, fuzzy good stuff because sometimes life is hard and we need a little external help to make it through the day with a smile on our face.

So this morning I stumbled across this article:

10 Choices You Will Regret In 10 Years

And while it is extremely useful, it somehow got me thinking about this:

5 Friends You Should Have In Your Life At All Times

The Cheerleader: This person is so damn proud of you--regardless what you do. You got up this morning and they're genuinely excited about it. You casually mention you have a job interview and they are rooting for you every step of the way. Honestly, for the longest time this was my mom--not to say she isn't still this uber supportive of me, but since then I've found friends who aren't genetically bound to me in some way who are on the board of Team Kiri.

The Older Sibling: This can sometimes even BE your sibling but I'm not here to make assumptions about your family life. This is the friend who you go to for advice because you know they'll give an honest, grounded answer. They may be a bit older or maybe they just have that sense of experience about them. They're there to help and have your best interest in mind and their advice and/or hugs always seem to have a great home-brewed feeling of "Everything will be okay."

The Cynic: I say this with caution because I don't mean you should keep a downer in your group of friends but you definitely need someone you can vent your frustrations to who won't judge or belittle you for them. This person isn't there to help fix your problems because you aren't ready to fix them yet--you need to have that knee-jerk "THIS SUCKS" emotional response and they are there to be like, "Darn right it does!" This is the friend you can say some of your less than shining things to and they don't blink an eye. They let you say something petty without thinking you're petty because sometimes we all need to say those terrible thoughts that cross our mind if just to get rid of them. This is a hard friendship to cultivate sometimes and I honestly advise being your cynic's friend mutual cynic to keep it from being a one-sided relationship. You vent together about the world so you can vent out the emotional response and approach the problem with a logical mind. One of the most valued traits of this friend is they are the most likely to call you on your own BS--or the BS of others that you're trying to excuse because deep down you really are a nice person.

The Party Animal: This is the friend who helps you forget your stress. Whether you go out to party, play video games together or shop--it doesn't matter. This is the person who you without fail can call up and unwind. They may not be the person you can every have a serious conversation with but that's not the point of this relationship. If you can have those kinds of conversations, awesome. But when you have a friend you just hang out with to have fun you find you tend to put all those worries on the back burner for a bit. We all need to be able to let go of our every day stresses so we don't go a little crazy and this is the friend who can help with that.

The Confidant: Pretty straight forward--you can tell this person absolutely anything and they don't judge you. Your hopes, your fears--that thing you did last summer... They're the person you call when you need to hide a body (hopefully not literally). This person knows how to listen. This, like the cynic, is also the kind of relationship that works best when it's mutual. It helps build a deep trust that will likely bond you for a while with that person, even if you drift apart. You're each other's secret keepers.

Now mind you, in this group of friends there is PLENTY of room for overlap. Also you may have a few friends who fit into all of these categories--these are the best friends--these are the friends you'll probably have around the rest of your life in some way or another. However, regardless how many people you have filling these shoes, I've found that these roles are essential to cast in your life.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Where's the Whimsy?

Normally... there would be a post here with my usual video...

But there isn't...

Because it's the day of my first Geek & Sundry Vlog! Whoooooo!

It uploads at 3pm so if I put anything here about it now, that would be spoilery. So in the future, these blogs will appear around 3pm. They will include a link to the discussion forum on the Geek & Sundry site and some possible suggested reading if you want to learn more about what we talked about etc etc.

Check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCA1r3raJynUBu9u6oT5A8gQ at 3pm today!

Stay curious!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

What Makes It Good?

As artists, we ask ourselves a lot of questions when we create. Is it good, will anyone else like it, is it worthy?

And the frustrating thing is everyone has a different answer. You may like one thing that I think is a piece of crap.

And while we've all had the 'beauty in the eye of the beholder' conversation, I think there's something in acknowledging that something can be good even if we do not feel it is.

This is a convoluted kind of blog post so bear with me.

For instance there are quite a few people who would agree with me that Twilight is not good. Some will site their reasoning that the writing is droll and lacks creativity or that the plot is ridiculous or the main character has the emotional depth of a teaspoon...

Personally, I would argue that the reason it is not good is it paints a toxic relationship in an appealing light and tells the reader this kind of behavior is not only okay--but desired. There are enough people--men and women alike--in emotionally and mentally abusive relationships that they do not need another piece of media coaxing them into believing its normal. So, to me, these are not good.

Yet there are friends of mine who enjoy them and when I asked they explained that after a hard day, they were fun fluff to curl up with. And when talking with them they acknowledged that sure, it had its plethora of problems, it was a nice way to unwind. These books were easy. And in that respect, there was a little good in them, whether I could see it or not. So I no longer argue with them about it.

Because there's no point.

I was raised on a lot of British style comedies and dramas, one of my friends was raised on pure laugh-track sitcoms.

He doesn't watch my shows because he feels they're boring. I don't watch his because I feel the humor is crass and relies on shock value.

Whether either of us are right the point is we both draw enjoyment from our respective shows. It doesn't make me a snob or him simple--we just like different things. And that's okay. It doesn't say one of our tastes is good or bad, it says they're different.

And I think the thing to truly take away from this idea is: What are you getting out of it?

What really may make something good is what the audience derives from it. Does it entertain? Does it teach us something about ourselves? Does it make us uncomfortable--and is there merit or something to be gained from being uncomfortable in that moment?

I realized half-way through writing this I'm not sure if I'm talking about the media we consume or the media we create but I guess there's little difference.

When you create something--ask what you're sending out into the world and why. And when you absorb something else, ask what it has to offer. Even the simplest of things--the silly things, the things that will never win great prizes for breaking boundaries--if they have entertained us, then there is good. Even if you personally can't see it.

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Little About Alys

Cover Preview
“I have no doubt in the power of your mind’s creations, Dreamer, but I assure you, this isn’t one of them.” 

---

This book hit a lot of road blocks. 

A LOT of roadblocks. Financial crisis, family crisis, the emotional roller-coaster of not being sure if you can finish writing a book that deals with the theme of suicide after you encounter it so intimately. 

But months later, I'm finally getting the final preparations for release. And I'm actually feeling pretty proud of it... which is a hard thing for me sometimes.  

I realize that some of you have wandered over here from my vlogs or twitter and I haven't talked too much about this project lately, so I thought I'd take a little time to explain what's going on. 

Alys, if you haven't guessed, is a modern (and rather twisted) adaptation of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. I use the term "adaptation" very loosely in this case. Mostly because when you get down to it, while there are plenty of ideas presented in Carroll's classic tale, there is very little actual plot. But I think in this case, it's the ideas that actually matter in the long run. 

Regardless of Lewis Carroll's actual intent for this story as an author--intent that has been argued back and forth between many--to me, the stories of Alice's adventures was a kind of love letter to lost little girls whose best companion was their imagination. I certainly had friends as a child... but admittedly none so treasured as those I'd created in my own mind. 

As a child I saw Alice in Wonderland as a message that the adult world was a bit of a crazy place. That it was all right if I didn't understand it, because in most respects it was all nonsense anyway. It was a comfort. I was not alone.

So, as an adult, my purpose for Alys was to have it serve as a similar comfort to an older generation. Writing it has helped me. I'm hoping reading it will do the same for others.

You can see the original trailer here that was intended for a winter release before all of this happened. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Moving

Today's happy thought is about embracing change.

The norm for me has been moving every year--which is admittedly a little exhausting but as a result, I've seen and experienced a lot of different sides of Seattle.

One of my favorite parts of moving is always going through the stuff--deciding what comes with me. It's a slow and arduous process but the sentimentality makes it worth it. Stumbling across pictures, weird knicknacks you picked up over the year. And while those knicknacks may not make the cut in coming with you, there's a joy in finding them and revisiting the memory.

And on the other hand when you find something that has a sour memory, it's also cathartic to get rid of it. Now I don't recommend moving every year if you can avoid it (I'm not even sure how I wandered into this tradition) but there is something wonderful about the nomad nature of it.

You end up somewhere entirely new. Some place you get to make your own again.

The downside of course being that you never really feel like you're home in a location. But that's okay. Seattle itself has sort of become my home.

At least for now.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

This Is SPARTAAAAA


A LOT happened this past weekend. G&S Vloggers were announced, I ran a crazy intense race (see above) and I am packing up all of my stuff so I can be moved into my new place by Saturday morning.

So we're taking it a bit easy this week--especially since we had to record this via iPhone. Fun fact, if you do not have the memory card in your camera, it cannot record you... go-figure.

To learn more about The Lara Project, check out: http://www.wit-and-whimsy.com/2013/03/the-lara-project-why.html or click any tag marked "The Lara Project".

If you want to check out the Spartan Race yourself: http://www.spartanrace.com/

...Melanie and I may have pretended to be secret agents stuck behind enemy lines as we went through it.

...I'm no expert but I'm pretty sure this made the experience 10x more awesome.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

One Step Up, Long Way Down

It's a cliche.

I'm not afraid of heights, I'm afraid of falling from them.

It's also a metaphor, albeit an ill-constructed metaphor, which I must confess also seems rather cliche.

But I feel it needs to be said because if you haven't already reached this point, you will and when you do, you need to know you're not absolutely crazy.

Then again, I'm sharing my experience and it's likely I'm a little unhinged so... perhaps you are crazy.

It's okay. We're all a little mad here.

Last Friday it was revealed that I was one of the very lucky ten people to be added as an expansion pack to Geek & Sundry's vloggers. And of course I'm elated, exhilarated--over the moon...

But I'm also absolutely terrified. 

There's a weird comfort in failing, I think. Or, rather a part of you does get comfortable with it. You try your hardest and you slide back down.

Rinse repeat.

There's not really a risk if you've already mentally prepared yourself for it. 

But succeeding is a different beast. And it's one I've honestly struggled with as an artist. I can't tell you how long it took me to manage a simple "thank you" when someone complimented my work. I had trouble making excuses. I still have trouble making excuses. Criticism was easier to hear. I knew how to filter it, how to use it to improve things.

We create because we enjoy it--and of course we want an audience and we want an audience to like it but once you know people are honestly paying attention, there is a definite feeling of stage fright in that.

Because once you succeed at something--even if it's a small something, the risk of failure seems ten times more petrifying. If you fall on your face, there are more people to witness, if you make a false move, you could damage everything.

Failure means there's work to do. Success means "you got it, now don't fuck it up."

Even though it isn't true, succeeding once seems to take away the freedom to fail any time after it. 

It's a scary thought, really. Maddeningly scary.

Or maybe just being scared of doing well seems crazy. I'm not entirely sure. I felt pretty crazy this weekend. Sliding back and forth from dancing for joy and vomit inducing panic. 

Admittedly, looking back, I realize that panic was fueled by the emotional stress of needing to finish two major projects before the end of the month while moving and agitated by the physical stress that was the insanity of the Spartan race.

So maybe that's not an entirely accurate observation in this case. 

But the point is there is some terror in succeeding in what you're doing. There's a huge difference in the mindset of wanting something and actually achieving it and that's okay. It really is. There's nothing wrong with being scared about it because it means you care--you want it to be good. 

And if you care about something badly enough, you probably should be a little scared. Scared you'll mess it up, scared you'll lose it... But that shouldn't stop you from going for it with all of you.

If you haven't got to it yet, deep breath, you will. And when you do remember that being scared of it is completely fine. You're not crazy.

You just care.

I think we need more of that in the world sometimes. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

THIS. IS SPARTAAAAAAAAAAA!

So I haven't been the best cadet in the UNSC as of late when it comes to training--moving, recording, filming etc have kinda taken major precedent and while I'm glad I've made such progress on my projects, I admit, I'm a little disappointed in myself for not always making exercise a priority.

I'm also kind of regretting it as this Saturday is the Spartan race I've been building up to and I imagine I will be utterly broken by the end of it.

Sad, broken, sore, absolutely dirty as hell, Kiri.

So guess what next week's W&W is going to cover? THIS THING.

Mostly because 1, it'll be a great way to talk more about The Lara Project via my vlogs and 2, You know you wanna laugh at me.

There will be mud, ladies and gentlemen. THERE WILL BE MUD!

P.S. Today, at Vidcon (which I sadly cannot be at), they are announcing the Vlog Contest winners. 3:30pm. I hope there is video.

Pretty exciting weekend, if you ask me.

Love you guys, be safe this weekend.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Happy Thoughts: Family

This is late. It's also very short. But I feel sincerity needs no long explanation. It can just be.

I have been very fortunate in life when it comes to loved ones.

I've already talked about how grateful I am to have my family--but I wanted to talk about a different kind of family today.

I have had at least 5 second mothers in my lifetime and quite a few self-adopted siblings. Only one alternate dad though. But he's extra awesome so it evens out.

And while this is a short Happy Thought today, I wanted to just linger on being grateful for the families we make ourselves. (Well... on some level you always make your own family, but you know what I'm talking about--the kind of making that doesn't require you to have babies) The people we have in our life because we chose to not because we feel some moral obligation that we have to.

Love is thicker than blood.

Tell me about your self-constructed families--the communities you've closely knit yourself into.