This week my mother gave my three-year-old son a children's edition of Puff the Magic Dragon, along with little finger puppets featuring Jackie Paper and Puff. She recently told me he was very unhappy about the fact that he was missing the copy of Puff The Magic Dragon I had originally bought him some months ago. Except it was the old-school edition, adapted from Romeo Muller's film version I'd always loved as a kid. He'd ripped many of the pages out of the book a while ago on some little boy's destructive bender, and I'd taken it out of his room in an attempt to salvage what was left. This is why I highly doubted that he was actually missing this specific book, which we'd barely read because of its length. But she insisted. I think they have a secret language because my son is delayed in language so his expressive vocab is fairly limited at the moment. So like I said, I was skeptical he had actually detailed this to her in anything but a few words and gestures.
But anyway, he was happy when she brought it over. He's been carrying around the book and the finger puppets for the last two days. But it was today when my heart got squishy over Puff, Jackie Paper and my son. My mom, as grandmothers do, loves to bring presents. Today, she came bearing a stuffed Puff music box that winds up and plays Puff the Magic Dragon, a poem written by Peter Yarrow and Leonard Lipton and first put to music in 1963 by Peter, Paul and Mary.
I made some comment about how his birthday must have come early, and she responded that Puff helped Jackie Paper talk (in the cartoon movie and Muller rendition). It was then that I realized why Puff was so special for a little boy still grasping with language. He's been carrying around the stuffed toy all day and clutched it hard to his chest as we mounted the stairs to bed.
At bed time we always read books, and tonight it was Puff the Magic Dragon. As I sang this beautifully illustrated book rendition of the song to him, we used the finger puppets to make the book come alive, making Puff frolic through the air and Jackie Paper give him "sealing wax and other fancy stuff."
But it was when Puff goes into his cave because Jackie Paper doesn't come back that I felt like I was about to turn a magical bedtime moment into sniffles.
A dragon lives forever but not so little boys
Painted wings and giant rings make way for other toys.
One grey night it happened, Jackie paper came no more
And puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar.
His head was bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain,
Puff no longer went to play along the cherry lane.
Without his life-long friend, puff could not be brave,
So puff that mighty dragon sadly slipped into his cave.
While my son was winding up his music box Puff and making finger puppet Puff frolic, I was about to melt into a puddle and start sobbing. Because little boys grow up and it was never so apparent to me more than in that moment with my little boy snuggling his Puff. And someday he'll talk in full sentences and the memory of the time when his vocab was a bit miniscule will be but a distant thought. But unlike Jackie Paper, I hope he never stops believing in the power of flying dragons, just like I will never forget the very essence of childhood magic wrapped up in a stuffed toy given as a symbol of love, a song and my little boy.
The picture to the right is a little abstract, but the pale blue eyes match Blake's, my main character in my work in progress, called The Reaper's Daughter. I also liked the wings because they also symbolize to me the Grim Reaper's wings of death. Anyway, the excerpt below is from Chapter 1. I'm hoping to have this book finished later this summer/early fall.
The Reaper's Daughter by KM Randall
Excerpt from Ch. 1
The Specters are black
The Specters are white
The Specters will haunt you and fight, fight, fight!
My breath fogged in the air as I shouted the cheer, while my fingerless gloves muffled my claps in the early autumn afternoon. I marched and clapped my way into formation and prepped myself for the lift. I felt my base, Brandon, wrap his strong hands around my calves and ankles and then I was soaring up, the wind whooshing around me, my feet instinctively planting onto his shoulders and my muscles working to keep myself balanced. The adrenalin kicked in, giving me that rush, the one that made it seem as if my blood sparkled within me and my heart danced in symphony to the head thrashing of eighties hair bands. The only reason I was on the squad was to be a flyer. It was like a death wish, sailing through the air like that, propelling my body in a way most sane people wouldn't dare. Plus, I got to satisfy both my physical need to be propelled through space and my dad’s need for me to do it in a structured environment while furthering my school career.
Just as I got my balance atop Brandon's shoulders, I noticed the crows. Their big, black bodies were littered all over the field like a bad omen—just sitting there, not doing anything but staring. Or maybe they were watching. I don't know why in those moments I was so focused on the birds, but they had always creeped me out. Maybe because they tended to hang out in my backyard like they were waiting to pick someone off. And that's when I saw him.
He had light brown skin that made me think of caramel and his silky black hair was pulled back into a ponytail. But it was his intense dark eyes that looked as if they’d been lined with kohl that made me pause, because there was no way to look away. He was sitting amidst the crowded stands, but he was the only person I saw. Everything around me fell away aside from the thundering of my heart and his slow, cocksure grin that split his mouth as he winked a dazzling golden brown eye my way. It was the grin that did it, making me shudder so hard I felt my balance slip. I tried to recover, my arms wind-milling around me, but I heard the audience in the bleachers gasp and knew it wasn't good. And then there was just air around me.
Copyright by Katrina M. Mendolera
One of my early readers was listening to this recently and said it reminded her of my upcoming novel, Fractured Dream. I just love that she thought of my book when listening to music, and the fact that it's already got the first song of a soundtrack.
Here's an excerpt from my writing with a fantasy art pic to go with it. I just love fantasy art, and what better way to appreciate it than illustrate scenes from Fractured Dream. The below excerpt is from the beginning of Chapter 10: The-Inbetween, and gives us our first glimpse of one of the fairytale characters that gets a retelling. Although the girl in the picture is lacking in clothes, I imagine Jess looking fierce like this, but with silvery eyes of course.
Excerpt Chapter 10 - The In-Between
Fractured Dream (The Dreamer Saga) pub date: June 21
Story’s dreams that night starred the same red-haired woman from her paintings. She was tall, fierce, and terrible. Her eyes gleamed like chrome lit with a vengeful mercurial fire as animals ran from her, their eyes white with terror. It was her painting come to life.
Story watched from an unseen place, wondering why this deceptively beautiful night stalker made her feel so afraid—not for herself, but for the woman. The red-haired predator came upon her quarry, a hulking black-pelted wolf. She leapt with feline grace and landed on the animal, sharp steel glinting in the moonlight before she plunged it into its neck, the wolf’s fur soaking up the red that leaked from his wound. She started to gut the animal and seemed intent on the task for a few seconds. Story thought she might start puking in the bushes any moment, watching the girl slice into the wolf. She was swallowing bile back down when she realized the redhead was staring directly at her. The girl’s steel eyes widened as if she were seeing a ghost, the cold glint of her gaze losing its edge. A smile slowly curved the woman’s full, sensual mouth.
“Story?” she asked, rising to her feet.
The Book Rat book review blog was awesome enough to host a guest post from me on my book, Fractured Dream. Check out, Happily ever after and the fairytale retelling.
I first got the idea for Fractured Dream in 2005, and in my mind I envisioned a red-headed huntress—a warrior who hunted Big Bad Wolves—to be my main character’s BFF. As you can guess, she was my version of Little Red Riding Hood... See more here.
I'm so excited to finally reveal my book cover designed by Greg Simanson from Booktrope Publishing. I'm in love with it. My book also went up for pre-sales yesterday. If you're a print lover like I am, the pre-orders are for e-format. Print sales will go up when the book launches in June. Anyway, without further ado, here's the link to Amazon: Fractured Dream Pre-sale orders
Fractured Dream (The Dreamer Saga) is slated to launch June 21.
If you love epic fantasy, fairytale retellings and romance…You won’t want to miss out on this opportunity!
Fractured Dream (The Dreamer Saga,Book 1) is the first installment in an epic fantasy series full of magic, mythical and mystical creatures, a breathtakingly beautiful otherworld and the right mixture of romance, mystery and suspense to keep the pages turning. It will debut June 21st, 2014, and I am looking for people who are interested in joining an exclusive Facebook team dedicated to providing feedback and helping spread the word about this series. Your feedback is invaluable and I am hoping you are interested in joining my team.
As a member of the launch team, you’ll not only receive an electronic edition of the book before it’s available to the public but also gain special access to the author and all of Team K.M. Randall via a private Facebook group. In return, all I ask is that you leave a short, honest review of Fractured Dream on Amazon and share news about the release with friends and family you think may also enjoy it.
Interested? Send an email to book manager Wendy Logsdon at email@example.com with your name, email address, and a brief explanation as to why you want to join Team K.M. Randall. Those selected will be notified via email and will be added to the Facebook group. We understand that not all people have Facebook accounts, in that case, we will make every effort to keep you updated via email.
Thank you in advance for your help in launching my newest novel. Your support is greatly appreciated!
Today, I read an article featuring some of the most disturbing, horrific and hilarious book covers (and titles) to ever have troubled the reading people, which you can read at Bored Panda. So while the old adage says, "you can't judge a book by its cover," I would suggest not turning your readership off all together. On the flip side, I am really into covers recently, and fiction often lends itself to really awesome imagery, especially fantasy and young adult. My obsession comes from the fact that we've recently been working on the cover for my book, Fractured Dream, slated for publication by Booktrope in June. I'm absolutely in love with it and can't wait until I can share it here. But all in good time.
The bottom line, however, is covers. So I decided to showcase a few that for me, are visual orgasms of delight. Stay awhile and take a looksy.
The first book pictured above is book one in the Eve series bye A.L. Waddington. For transparency sake, I am editing this series, although I did not have a part in the editing of this first book. But my involvement in the series has nothing to do with my love of this cover. Mystical, magic visual love! I am editing the second book pictured above, which is also in the Eve series. And you're in luck, because the cover for Enlightened was just revealed on Monday. Both covers were done by the wonderful Greg Simanson, a cover designer with Booktrope Publishing. If I was tweeting I'd call it #coverlove.
The third book pictured is Schasm by Shari Ryan. The author did her own art work and a fantabulous job she did. I didn't edit the above book, which is the first in this series, but I am editing her second book, Frissure Free. I'll post the cover here at some point because it is also beautiful, if not more so than the first. All three have been, or will be, published by Booktrope.
I trolled around for some other visual wonders and found these three, much loved for the contrast of colors, as well as concept. Firebug, the first one pictured, was a a cover reveal featured on Tor.com today. I don't even really know what these books are about, but I'm definitely in the mood to find out.
But wait, I'm not done. More eye candy to come.
The first one, done by Ida Jansson, is just cool. The designer also works for Booktrope, but I nabbed this off her website, where she also does cover design independently. Book two was a random cover found on Goodreads.com. I so rarely see fantasy covers that feature beautifully drawn creatures of magic that I was drawn to it. It appeals to my old school/new school sense of cover art. The third one is also off of Goodreads, and is a contender in their covergasms contest. You can see why.
Although a book can have a great cover and be a dud, it doesn't hurt to stun possible readers by translating your words into vivid works of art. Fantasy or not, covers have power and I'm feeling the magic in these.
There's a lot of blogs out there talking about fantasy books that I haven't read, despite that fantasy is the genre I write in and one of my favorite genres to read. Lord of the Rings? I hate to admit I have not. Although I have read some of The Hobbit if that regains me any cred back. One blog, Fantasy Book Critic, lists a horde of fantasy book review blogs that I'm eager to peruse. But don't get me wrong, I have read my share of fantasy. I thought I'd take a trip down memory lane by listing a few of my faves here. You may have noticed that I seem to like listing past books I've read here lately. I've found that it's a fun use of my time--reminiscing about all my past loves, those pages and words that have inspired the writer I am today. If you've read any of these comment, since I feel as if a few of them might fly under the radar.
The Great Alta series by Jane Yolen -- I picked up Sister Light, Sister Dark from the library as a young fantasy reader, and the image of two women, born of the same essence, twisting their opposing colored hair to strangle their enemy has stayed with me ever since. A couple of years ago I tracked down the whole series since the images continue to echo in my mind.
The Time Master Trilogy by Louise Cooper -- Tarod, you were the man of my fantasies for years to come, even despite being a chaos god. I loved you all the more for it!
Greenfire by Louise Titchener -- I decided to Google this author because I don't remember ever reading anything by her again, and this was reportedly a one-time foray into fantasy for her. Apparently, she was a romance writer, which makes sense because there was a definite focus on the love story in this--like chick lit for fantasy lovers. I like chick lit, I like fantasy. Why not?
The Fionaver Tapestry series by Guy Gavriel Kay -- I haven't read this series in a long time, but it's one of my favorites in the realm of fantasy because it deals with the real world and a fantasy world, a theme that particularly appeals to me. As if, yeah, that could happen sings through my soul.
Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley -- I read you twice. Twice! And you're huge, like bible-length. But I love retellings where Morgan le Fey is good, and I love anything having to do with the King Arthur legends.
The Wayfarer Redemption series by Sara Douglass -- Oh Axis, I was so mad when you left Faraday, but it all worked out... for you anyway. Unfortunately, Ms. Douglass passed away a few years ago, but her work lives on. I followed this series for years and still love it.
Onion Girl by Charles de Lint -- Gotta have some Charles on here. I've read a lot of his books, but this one's my favorite, and Jilly Coppercorn is the cutest name.
Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett -- Who doesn't love laughing over the birth of Satan. But really, I love this and have read it several times.
Many Waters by Madeleine L'Engle -- My favorite of her YA fantasy series following the adventures of the Murry's. I love the mix of science and magic merging with Christian theology.
And then the day came when someone actually read the book...
Any writer will understand the excitement and anxiety that goes along with finally letting someone read your work. I recently handed over my entire manuscript to my sister to be my first reader ever. She has listened to me talk about it for years now, so I figured I owed her the first read. Besides, she reads the fantasy-fiction genre, and can be pretty brutal when need-be.
From the point where I printed out the MS for the first time last month, topping off at more than 200k words, to the much slimmer version I emailed to her last week, it's been a journey.
In my previous post I babbled ignorantly on about how easy I found "killing my darlings," or editing, had been. And it was at first. But when I was still at 190-something thousand words after cutting 20- to 30 pages, I had to take a step back. I'm pretty realistic, and as much as I loved the 40 or so pages still lingering that were keeping me away from my goal of 160k words, I realize that I'm a newbie, a no-name writer, and a book of that length would be daunting coming from an untested author.
Despite knowing this, I tried going through the MS first and cutting down sentences, paragraphs and a page here or there in hopes that it would drop my word count down and bring me to a more reasonable length. I mean I want people to read it. But I moaned, I procrastinated, I debated and shook my head. It was too painful. I couldn't do it. But then I did. I clicked command-x and deposited the first 50 or so into another document, saved it, and said adieu—for now. A prequel could always rise from those ashes.
Instantly, I felt a sense of freedom, a weight lifted from my spirit and I turned to my book with new eyes and a better sense of length, pace and readability. And I've been happier ever since. But it certainly wasn't easy, I say to my previous naive self. I even got the word count under 150k. I mean it's fantasy, after all, so it's got a little heft.
This all brings me to handing it over for the first time to be read. I'm certain my sister wants to ring my neck, because I keep finding reasons to talk to her to find out what she thinks. But it's an amazing feeling to have written a book and have even just one reader, who so far, likes it.
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.