Even though I've been devouring books since I could read, once I became an author and really ingratiated myself into the intense online world of fandoms and book circles, there have been a number of terms I'd never heard before in relationship reading and fandom lingo. Terms that I secretly nodded my head at and pretended to know what it meant until one day a co-worker enlightened me. I don't know if this just makes me old or just plain clueless. But definitely anything acronym is going to boggle me ... I seriously hate-girl on acronyms. Nowadays, I just to turn to my friend Google to find out terms I don't know. Here's a few I've learned along the way:
Mary-Sue: In fan fiction, a Mary-Sue or, in case of a male character, Gary-Stu or Marty-Stu is an idealized character, often but not necessarily an author insert and/or wish-fulfillment. (Source: Wikipedia)
OTP: One True Pairing. Meaning a fan's favorite combination of characters in a fandom. (Source: Urban Dictionary)
Shipper or Shipping: Initially derived from the word relationship, it is the desire by fans for two people, either real-life celebrities or fictional characters, to be in a relationship, romantic or otherwise. (Source: Wikipedia)
Insta-love: When two people meet and lightening metaphorically strikes. They instantly feel an attraction to each other. Think Romeo & Juliet. (Source: Me since I couldn't find a good definition anywhere else.)
So if you're wondering what the hell a Filk is or are acronym-challenged like me, check out these links for a whole glossary of Fandom terms:
"I reconciled that God, if he were real, was Gandalf. He had to be."
Please welcome K. Williams to my blog. She’ll soon be releasing her newest book, the first in a fantasy trilogy, called The Shadow Soul (Trailokya Trilogy #1). My fantasy loving self is excited for this one. In this guest post she talks about being introduced to fantasy in the womb, how Gandalf must be God, and her mother’s influence on her writing and love of reading. – KMR
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My mom was in her mid-twenties when she decided to have her second child. It was 1974 and the good news came in the late fall. After suffering a miscarriage, I’m sure she faced this pregnancy with trepidation, holding her son and first child close, thankful he just turned four years old.
As the months went by, strange cravings for books took over. Mom picked up Tolkien’s trilogy and The Hobbit. A resurgence in popularity had put the books on the map. You might remember the artistically phenomenal Rankin Bass production, which left most wanting more. Mom loved those books, but her usual flavor was horror films. Not the horror of today, which she finds hard to stomach. No. She liked the Hammer Films and the Classic Universal monsters. Things like that. Reading wasn’t something she had ever gotten into. Somehow, she knew it was the baby she carried—probably because with her son, she had a desire to build models. He grew up to become a CAD operator (draws models).
Come June, mom was finally holding me—her second child; a daughter. She said I reminded her of Dopey back then, with my big blue eye and nearly hairless dome. My nursery was fixed with a Rankin Bass Hobbit poster and a read along book for kids that introduced that tome. Because of that poster, I reconciled that God, if he were real, was Gandalf. He had to be. Gandalf simply looked like what I thought an omniscient and seemingly careless, but loving deity might look like.
Most of the books on my shelf were related to fantasy in some manner or other. Disney and the Children’s entertainment machine pretty much produce fairy tales and magical stories. Even the learning stuff of Sesame Street is framed in the fantasy of living puppets. Who can forget the lively world of Dr. Seuss and his Who People? I grew up on classic horror, 80s fantasy films, my little library and acres of woods with no neighbors to speak of for miles. My imagination grew boundless. I read more and more.
The cherry on top was the time spent watching MASH, Python and war documentaries with dad. Over a seventh grade project, we bonded. I had to build a medieval shield. So he helped me cut it out of wood, paint it silver. On its face, we did the English cross and he made me a Smaug decal for the upper corner. I believe we still have that shield somewhere … I’m not quite sure what happened to it, but I loved that thing. Swords, of course, were as yet banned, but a staff (the stick from an old hobby horse) was just fine. I was fine with that—Donatello and Gandalf used one, so it was good enough for me.
Though I never figured out how to step through the looking glass and enter the world of books, I’ve become enamored of them. I miss reading the Jordan series (stopping at book 11 to pursue my own work and research). I “re-read” Tolkien over a college summer. It was like spending time with an old friend, a surreal feeling with the background story that work has with me. To this day, I still adore Alice in Wonderland, but was disappointed in the film more recently produced—longing for something a little more like the animation Disney created crossed with the weirdness of Burton that I adored in Nightmare.
Mom still reads, though she stopped for a long time to raise her children and work. She’s read the classics that I refer her to—Dan Brown, Anne Rice and is now attempting Outlander, though she’s not sure she likes it. She read Twilight and was wholly unimpressed and has no interest in Fifty Shades of Grey which she calls sick-sick-sick, with a twist of humor. I’m thankful that she took the time to read for me and to me while I was yet a spark and again when I was a girl.
I look forward to picking up Jordan again, and finished most of Tolkien’s work a few summers ago. My next focus: Steampunk…
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The Shadow Soul is the first part of The Trailokya Trilogy, a fantasy series that follows the rise and fall of fabled races and souls at the junction of three worlds: Zion, Earth and Jahannam. K. Williams weaves a tale that will leave you questioning long held convictions about the human legends of Heaven and Hell. Are you ready to enter the gates of Zion and learn the truth?
Captain Maiel is a duta warrior of Zion, a race of giant, winged guardians and chroniclers of the lesser souls. Maiel’s assurances are shaken when she nearly loses a young human girl to the dark forces of Jahannam, the prison realm where the lowest beings reside. To avoid answering to the leaders of her world, Maiel seeks refuge on Earth, but she is pursued by a baron of Jahannam intent on destroying her. Can she be saved before time runs out? Or will she be sacrificed to secure the borders of Zion and to hide the lie her journey uncovers?
With each step further into darkness, long held secrets are revealed and shadows rise from the past to challenge absolutes.
THE GIRL BEHIND THE BOOK
Born in Saratoga Springs, New York, K. Williams embarked on a now twenty-year career in writing. After a childhood, which consisted of voracious reading and hours of film watching, it was a natural progression to study and produce art.
K attended Morrisville State College, majoring in the Biological Sciences, and then continued with English and Historical studies at the University at Albany, home of the New York State Writer’s Institute, gaining her Bachelor’s Degree. While attending UA, K interned with the 13th Moon Feminist Literary Magazine, bridging her interests in social movements and art. Topics of K’s writing include the environment, animal welfare, gender limitations, racial disparities, and the trauma of war.
Published novels by K include the Civil War drama Blue Honor, the Second World War spy thriller OP-DEC: Operation Deceit, and the controversial science fiction/fantasy series, The Trailokya Trilogy. In addition to writing novels, K enjoys the art of screenwriting and has worked on the screen spec 8 Days in Ireland and the adaptations of her current novels. Currently, K has completed the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program for Film Studies and Screenwriting at Empire State College (SUNY), and is the 2013-2014 recipient of the Foner Fellowship in Arts and Social Justice. In 2015, K. Williams became an official member of International Thriller Writers.
K continues to write on her blog weekly, producing commentary Mondays and Fridays on hot topics with some fun diversions for your workweek. Whether it’s cooking, learning a foreign language, history or dogs, you’ll find something to enjoy and keep coming back for. Always a promoter of other artists, K uses Guest Blog Wednesdays to showcase artists from around the web and bring you interesting readings to expand your horizons. A sequel to her second novel, OP-DEC, is in the research phase, while the screen adaptation is being considered for production by film companies.
A devoted dog mom to Miss Sadie Sue Shagbottom, K is also a visual artist, producing the ZoDuck Cartoon, painting and sketching–digitally or traditionally, as well as an accomplished Photographer.
From a reader and observer's standpoint, magic, vampires, angels, and witches have been hot trends and themes since the dawn of Harry Potter and Twilight. In came the era of fantasy and paranormal geared for young adult readers. Meanwhile, us OLDER "young adults," who'd long been searching for romances between teen vamps and vastly vivid magical world-building suddenly had just as vast of a selection of books to choose from.
As a reader who has been reading fantasy my entire life, it was amazing to have so many new titles and wonderous stories. And of course, it's been helpful to have launched my writing career in a time when the kind of books and stories I like writing are popular, in literature but also in television and movies.
So the point of this post ... A recent article in the Irish Times made the statement that fantasy in YA may be on its way out in 2015, making room for stories centered around more realistic themes. Now, while the author admits it's a sweeping generalization, I still felt the need to argue the point, specifically because of the reasons the author, Robert Dunbar, gives for this prediction in Realism Replaces Fantasy in Young Adult Fiction:
"Traumas and tantrums, often arising from clashes with various authority figures, remain a feature of the “growing up” process, but in the more accomplished novels they are seen as providing the opportunity for enhancing inter-generational understanding rather than merely creating an excuse for prolonged outbursts of shouting."
The writer of the article then goes on to mention two books, both of which explore elements of homosexuality, and the deeply moving adolescent experiences that are involved in these books. I'm not questioning his analysis, I'm sure they're quite deep. But in the midst of all that, fantasy in YA still has a place. Harry Potter himself dealt with insecurity, loss, bullying, child abuse, discordant friendships, consequences, and the sacrifice that comes with choosing to be a leader in a world of followers. These books were not just so wildly popular because of the amazing world and epic battle JK Rowling created, they also resonated on a human level.
Many YA fantasy books delve into heavier themes, including homosexuality, suicide, shifting parental relationships, abuse ... So my response to this article is no, realism is not going to be replacing fantasy in the YA genre in 2015. I think there's plenty of room for both. And often, they can be one in the same.
K.M. Randall writes fantasy and paranormal for both a general and young adult audience. Her debut novel, an epic fantasy called Fractured Dream, launched in June 2014, and her second book, The Reaper's Daughter, launched May 2015. Randall also published Fairytale Lost, a prequel to Fractured Dream, as an exclusive on Wattpad. She blogs about dreams, female heroines, and activism and its relevancy to the literary and fictional world. And when in the season, sometimes she just likes to talk about Halloween. She is currently hard at work on the second book in the Dreamer Saga series, Shattered World.