Even though I review books occasionally at Cellar Door Lit Rants & Reviews, I never really read many books reviews until last year when I released my first book. The reason I began at all was because I became obsessed with the reviews of my own book. It was through my sudden interest in reading reviews on Goodreads, blogs, and Amazon, that I found out that love triangles were on their way out and that "insta-love" as it's termed, is regarded with disdain.
Now it shouldn't surprise anyone that I love to read. Any writer should be passionate about books. I grew up devouring fantasy, science-fiction, and YA. Within these magical world, whether fantasy or literature, one of my favorite parts was the timeless romances and soul connections. So you can imagine my surprise when I found out that true love and instant connections had become passe. Perhaps they'd never been popular to begin with, although I find that hard to believe judging by the number of books that were grounded in this concept of the ultimate love story.
Perhaps it's because readers are grounded more firmly in reality nowadays, although I find that also hard to believe. If you're anything like me, getting away into a world of myth and magic is an escape from reality, and epic love is often a part of that. People snub their noses at Twilight by saying it's not good writing. Perhaps it's not complex or involved writing, but it's the kind of approachable writing that allowed millions to fall in love with, wait for it, a love story.
I get it, I'm married, so I know how real relationships work and it's not all fluff and flowers and starry soul connections. But instant connections are how people often get together in the first place. If my husband and I hadn't been instantly attracted to each other the night we met, he wouldn't have stayed when his friend left the bar we were at, I never would have asked him for his number even though I'd never asked a guy for his number in my life, and he wouldn't have called me the next day. Ultimately, our own love story never would have been written.
Love triangles have never bothered me as a reader, but I understand why other people may be sick of them. But despite really despising this term, I am defending "insta-love." Because it's not unrealistic, especially when you're writing about teenagers, who experience a passionate range of emotion. I write fantasy to imagine worlds where anything can happen, realistic or not. But connecting with someone on a physical or emotional level doesn't seem like fiction to me. That's the non-fiction woven into the magic that makes stories worth reading.
So what's the story? Why are there so many readers who dislike insta-love? I'd love to hear comments below!
Boxing up Fear Street
I've hit the book jackpot. Or at least it seems that way as I get underwayredecorating my office. Battered bookcases now gleam new and white, while piles and piles of books are there for the reading. I always dreamed of a huge library someday, featuring every book I ever owned. The truth is, I tried that in my office and it's been a perpetual disaray as bookshelves were doubled up on and books were crammed in as tight as they could go. So I put my foot down in the name of decluttering in this newly brightened space. I forced myself, as painful as it was, to put the R.L. Stine Fear Street books into a box. Yes, I'm really that much of a book hoarder.
I cut it off at putting Babysitter's Club on my shelves — I have all the books still, though, but they're rightfully in boxes — but anything I read from my early double digits and up was fair game and could have been found on my shelves up until the other day. My large V.C. Andrews collection also went into that box along with Stephen King and Anne Rice. I still love them, but I've been over my horror phase for a long while. I will not be re-reading Gerald's Game, which I read when I was around 12 and have been traumatized since. I have to give Stephen King credit, the images are still clear as day in my head. Likewise for Anne Rice, I still shudder at some of the scenes she painted in Taltos and I was a young teenager when I read that as well. Meanwhile, I have a whole series of books in there I have no recollection of ever reading. But that's the fun part! Because I can re-read them and it's as if I've got brand new books to devour. Books that made the shelf cut are my fantasy collections, anything by Alice Hoffman, Neil Gaiman, and Tanya Huff, my chicklit, and any non-fiction (Bill Bryson, you make me laugh so) and literature. And of course any newer YA, House of Night, Harry Potter, Morganville Vampires, etc. And there's more. A lot more.
That brings me to the hardest part, when I made myself put my Christopher Pike books in that box. While most of his earlier stuff was just really good teen horror, I feel to this day that a lot of his later books were brilliant. There was a lot of science-fiction and spirituality threaded through his later works that I remember really connecting with as a teen looking for YA that was a little deeper. It's been a long time since I read them, but I'm thinking when I have some reading time open up that I might do a special series on re-reading Christopher Pike books. Were they as great as I remember them? A friend of mine recently read a couple of the books from his Last Vampire series and said she was disappointed by it because she felt he didn't portray a feminine viewpoint or voice well. So I'm interested to see what I think of these books in my mid-thirties. I consider them a guilty pleasure given I read them when I was an adolescent and again in my twenties and plan to read them now in my thirties. I'll have to Wickipedia that man and see if he's written anything new.
Until next time, happy reading!
One of my son's favorite books is a flip the flap Superman book, called My First Superman Book. He's on his third copy. We got the first probably right after he turned one, and he delighted in pulling the tabs and looking underneath the flaps. To be fair, he loves all flip the flap books—I'm sure most toddlers do—but this one in specific was especially special. But being so little, he also loved to tear, and number one was soon in shambles beyond repair. I kept the pieces that are intact and stowed them away thinking they'd make cool framed pictures at some point.
Then we moved onto number two because he just really liked that book and I had ended up giving him a Batman book in the same series. This one too met an untimely end, but he was a little more careful with it. The third time around was last Christmas when he was two-and-a-half and able to understand the rules: Don't rip it. I'd have to say he's doing pretty well with it, although a little worn in some areas, he's taken care of this one. But my point isn't the Superman book or even the Batman book, it's the Wonder Woman book, also in the same series, that I also bought him more recently. I knew it existed and I kept thinking how I wanted him to understand that women could be superheroes too, so I ended up buying it for him.
He took it to his pre-school class recently and his one teacher looked up at me and said, "This is awesome." If he wanted to wear pink, I would let him too. He also thrust a pamphlet into my hand about a dance class at school, and when I asked him if he wanted to take it, he confirmed with a "Yeah, yeah," and several nods of his head. He's been taking the dance class for a couple of months now. When I went to buy him jazz shoes, the woman at the shoe store asked me if I was looking for a girl, all the while my son's hand was in mine and he was standing next to me. I was happy when I went to a different shoe store and the woman didn't bat an eyelash when I told her I needed dance shoes for my son. Boys like to dance too.
There's been stories where parents didn't tell friends what gender their baby was because they didn't want to push the child into gender roles. I'm sorry, but I think that's a bit over the top. Girls and boys ARE different. That doesn't mean one can't do something the other can and vice versa. But we're built different, we have different hormones, we have strengths that sometimes stereotypically play out. Sometimes they're the same strengths, sometimes they're different interests. But there is no shame in being different. There's also no shame in being the same.
In many ways, my son is so very much a "boy"—the dirt-love, the wrestling, the bad guy comes to take down the good guy play, the rough housing with daddy and the dog. . . I didn't put Hot Wheels in his hands until he expressed a deep interest in cars. But, his number one wish for this Christmas is a doll house. His pre-school teacher recently told me he was caring and kind. If I can raise a kind, caring, happy, self-aware and loving human being, then that's all I care about. Purple, pink, blue, cars, doll house, Superman book, Wonder Woman book . . . As long as he can be himself triumphantly, then I feel like I'm being a good mom, gender roles or no gender roles aside. He still knows he's a boy. It's a part of his growth, understanding that there is a difference. But I also don't specify whether an interest he has is "girly" or "boyish." If he wants to play dolls, go ahead. Build huge Lego towers, have fun. His father will say, "He has your heart." OR "He has my sense of humor." But there's no dwelling on where our son's interests lie. It's just about letting him have the freedom to discover who he truly is. And it's one of the most joyful aspects of parenting. So here's my poetic ode to his growth since I couldn't quickly find a poem that fit the scenario. I'm a writer, but I've never claimed to be a poet, so if you know of one better, please share.
A child stumbles and picks up the step
Walking has happened and running is next
He grows to love play, little cars run into trucks
Sesame Street happens and, at fun, Elmo is the best
The 'choo-choo' sounds from his thin little lips
Puckers, however, come from the same popsicle kiss
Wonder is written in the bright of blue eyes,
As Auntie's old dollhouse comes as a surprise
He runs fast and twirls strong
He wrestles 'Puppy' and sings songs
He likes to be the good guy of the day
He likes to dance and keep Mommy in sway
He likes to play, and it doesn't matter if it's with Peppa or Jake
He's just using his imagination or dreaming from beyond the frosted birthday cake
He knows girls are just as strong as boys in this world
Because no one has told him there's those who've thought otherwise at all
Fractured Dream (The Dreamer Saga) is currently on sale for only 99 cents! But the deal ends on Nov. 5! Here's the synopsis if you're unfamiliar with the title:
Have you ever wondered where fairytales go once they're created?
It's been eight years since Story Sparks last had a dream. Now they're back,
tormenting her as nightmares she can't remember upon waking. The black
waters of Lake Sandeen, where her Uncle Peter disappeared decades
before, may hold the secret to Story's hidden memories, or a truth she'd
rather not know. On a bright summer afternoon, Story and her two best
friends, Elliott and Adam, take a hike to the lake, where they dive into
the cool water and never reemerge. What they find is beyond anything
they've ever imagined could be possible, a world where dangers lurk in
the form of Big Bad Wolves, living Nightmares and meddlesome witches and
Now Story must remember who she really is and somehow stop
two worlds from ultimate annihilation, all while trying not to be too
distracted by the inexplicable pull she feels toward a certain dark-eyed
traveler who seems to have secrets of his own. The fates of the worlds
are counting on her.
Here's what people have been saying recently:
"She has an incredibly vivid writing style that allows you to 'see' what you are reading. The worlds she paints with her words are very imaginative."
"Oh man, this book was a winner for me. I couldn't put it down in between jobs. I even told some of my patients about it. I don't know why but even from the beginning I was hooked."
"I loved the characters, the world building, and especially the back stories. I was really bummed when it ended and I can't wait for the next one."
Get it on Amazon here.
The Reaper's Daughter Book Trailer
Another amazing book trailer by my talented sis. I'm happy to share the trailer for The Reaper's Daughter, slated for release on February 15, 2015.
Slices of Mommy's Life: Pirate Hearts
When I first started this blog, all I knew was that I needed a platform to showcase my scribblings and to talk about my life as a writer. I started off with essays and short stories I'd written, small slices of my life re-purposed as fiction, although not far-removed from non-fiction. But as an author, my work is in fantasy. So I balanced the two, giving myself an outlet for my creative non-fiction, while also being able to promote and wax author-like on my newest projects and releases. But I've never been a fully focused blog, other than it being about my writing or books. The thing is, though, I feel to really engage with people you have to be willing to put up more, be vulnerable—share. And that's hard for me.
The thing is, promotional items are often the easiest and fastest way to put up content. Meanwhile, I don't want to just throw up any one thing and stamp it on my blog. I don't know if anyone reading is all that interested in my day-to-day life. Some authors write about their lives and I enjoy those, but I somehow don't feel comfortable doing it myself. Probably because I am a fairly private person. I look up to the writers who reveal the nitty-gritty of their lives and are able to help people by sharing painful past experiences. I just can't do that. Again, I'm too private. I'm the person who gets irritated when someone tags me in a Facebook post about future night plans. I don't want everyone to know what I'm doing. So as much as I'd like to be the sharing type, I just somehow can't be. And I just can't write about writing all the time because as much as I love to write and it's my passion outside my family, I have other thoughts.
I guess what I'm trying to say is I've been looking for a way to share something of who I am with my readers and anyone who happens to drop by, but I haven't really known how to except by talking about fairly safe topics. I have in the past shared more moments from my life through my creative non-fiction, but inspiration for those flashes don't hit me as often as I'd like, except for my many amazing moments being a mother. I don't define myself by motherhood, but I am a mom. My son is the brightest color in my world. So while I don't want to become a literary/author blog suddenly turned mommy blog, I do feel I need to share that part of my life in some way since I'm on the threshold of becoming a stay-at-home mom. So I've decided to share Slices of My Mommy Life, a feature that will be my creative flare on moments shared with my son and my family. The first one is short and sweet, but I hope you'll feel I've aptly shares something of my human self.
Slices of Mommy's Life
He pointed to the old Valentine's Day card from earlier this year that he’d kept in his toy box like a cherished keepsake. I'd chosen the card specifically because his curious little fingers loved lift-the-flap books and the hidden secrets buried beneath. He lifted one paper square, tapping his fingers on the pirates holding pink and red glittery hearts. “Hearts?” he said, his soft, sweet little voice leaving off the “t" as he often did.
"Hearts," I confirmed, glancing over at him sitting beside me on the couch. I stopped working for a moment, putting my laptop aside, and touched the card too, tracing the outline of a small heart with my fingertip. “You’re Mommy’s heart,” I said without much thought, but as the words left my mouth I knew them to be some of the truest words I’d ever spoken.
“Mommy’s heart?” he asked, looking up at me and nestling closer, my lips drawn to his soft, plush little cheek by the serious set to his brow and the inquisitiveness sparkling in his large blue eyes.
“Mommy’s heart,” I whispered and squeezed him that much closer, knowing that while the sentiment was probably lost on him verbally, he'd understood it all the same.
The three little pigs & the Big Bad Wolf
My dreamcast for Fractured Dream
Several blogs on my current blog tour posted my dreamcast, but the whole cast I had selected hasn't ever been revealed. This was probably one of the most fun and grueling of tasks for the tour, because it was so hard to choose the perfect actors to play the roles of characters so near and dear to my heart. Anyway, here is my dreamcast for Fractured Dream. Hover over the pictures to see who is who.
Finishing The Reaper's Daughter
This announcement is long overdue, but I finished the first draft of The Reaper's Daughter at the start of September. I absolutely can't wait to release it, and without totally having confirmed this yet with my
publisher, I'm hoping for a mid-January release. My cover is already complete as well, so that reveal will hopefully be coming soon.
I absolutely love this book, and yet, after spending eight years on writing Fractured Dream and only one on the rough draft of The Reaper's Daughter, is it strange it felt almost anti-climatic? I almost feel as if I cheated. It's more average sized as far as books go, while Fractured Dream is a bit longer. So perhaps that's it. I poured just as much love into this one, but it felt easier to write somehow. The common saying among authors is that the first book is always the hardest and I wholeheartedly agree. Perhaps it's the motivation I possessed writing the second one, it was so much more intense after finally finishing one book. I'm an actual author now, my inner self screams in delight, and the urge to continue weaving all the stories crowding my head make my
fingers go crazy on the keyboard as the "beast-creature ideas," as Ray Bradbury put it, demand to be let out.
I also have an urge to return to the world I built in The Dreamer Saga, to continue Story's story (ha ha). It's definitely a different experience soaring through a book in such a short period of time after toiling away for years with people questioning whether you'd ever actually finish the book. Then wondering if anyone would publish it, should I go indie? Traditional? Self-publish? But here I am a year later with a published book and a publisher behind me and a second book almost ready to go, but the beast-creatures in my head haven't had
their stories completed yet and so to the keyboard I return, a mad woman with a mission: to tell stories.
So here's to getting a book blurb for The Reaper's Daughter soon so that I can share with anyone who likes my writing or is intrigued by the title of this book and what it's about. Stay Tuned for more details.
Fractured Dream playlist
I have been meaning to post my book soundtrack to Fractured Dream for forever. What I like best is that some of these picks were brought about organically through several readers and friends who suggested songs that reminded them of various parts or themes in the book. And then some of the songs I picked myself. My husband even got to have a say. So here's a big thanks to Lara Southgate (who has her own version . . . here), Nicole Munson, Melissa Flickinger, Bethany Root and Ronald Mendolera.
All of My Love | Led Zeppelin
Going Under | Evanescence
Remember | Emilie Autumn
Into the Mystic | Van Morrison
Howl | Florence + the Machine
Transylvanian Concubine | Rasputina
Desert Rose | Sting
This Night | Black Lab
Wicked Games | Chris Isaak
Little Earthquakes | Tori Amos
Without You | Breaking Benjamin
Breathe | Midge Ure
Little House | The Fray
Leave Me in the Dark | Keri Noble
Galileo | Indigo Girls
Shake It Out | Florence + the Machine
No Trace | MS MR
A Sight to Behold | Eisley
Redeemed | Charlotte Martin
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.