I'm not just a reader, writer, and editor, I'm a book collector. If you're anything like me, getting someone to read a book you've suggested because you just loved, loved, loved it, fills you with a strange, zealous fervor. Because of this, I've lost a number of books through the years to friends, family, and even to one of my son's short-lived nannies, all because I am filled with a passion for sharing the words and worlds I've read so much I willingly hand out books like I'm the public library.
The one person I love sharing books with more than anyone though, is my son. One of my favorite parts of the day is bedtime and sharing my love of reading with my five-year-old. He's incredibly imaginative, and so far, he loves to read, find new books, and pick one or three out each night to read. My goal is to nurture this into a lifelong love of reading. So when I recently pulled out some of my old chapter books from when I was between the ages of six and ten years old, I contemplated seeing if he'd be interested in reading one with me.
While I don't have all my books from my WHOLE life ever, I'd say I have a lot of them. My mother and sister have even dumped some of their old books on me, even while urging me to donate mine. But no, unless they're tired text books, I've held onto them. I can't seem to let them go. My son and I have enjoyed books from my childhood--Pinkerton Behave by Steven Kellogg (my son finds this one hilarious); all the books written by Stephen Cosgrove that no one I know has ever heard of but all which have special lessons at the end and are beautifully written and illustrated; my Care Bears books; Outside Over There by Maurice Sendak; etc.
Don't get me wrong, I love discovering new ones with him as well. I get as excited as when I was a kid when Scholastic orders come home, even though new books we do not need nor have space for. But sharing the old, the ones I loved as a kid with my own child, brings a certain nostalgia with it while igniting the passion to share. Did anyone ever read the Lemonade Trick by by Scott Corbett as a kid? I remember loving it. This is the first chapter book my son allowed me to read to him, and he actually let me finish it over the course of several days. But I'm astounded he stayed attentive, because there were many mundane details at times I thought I would lose him. Despite sometimes frequent interruptions for questions, he was for the most part engaged, at times falling into appropriate fits of giggles during the funny parts, questioning me about chemistry during the science/magic parts, and there were even a couple of times I was informed that he did not like Bumps Burton (the bully) at all. Today, we made a special trip to the store because he suddenly was craving lemonade.
Next, he agreed to let me read him Witch Week by Diana Wynne Jones, which is probably one of my favorites from my childhood. But a few sentences in, we both realized it was above him at this moment, so we shelved it for another time and a little growth. We broke it up with a little Pete the Cat tonight, and next we're onto my Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books by Betty MacDonald. I'm certain if I can dig out my Bunnicula books by James Howe he'll fall in love.
See, the moral of my story is, being a book "collector" can pay off, and I hope it continues to far into the future.
I had this idea recently to create a YouTube show where I read and ran on my treadmill at the same time, something like, Running & Reading For Life. It was going to serve as this inspirational bit for moms who love to read and want to get more fit. I laid in bed for more than an hour much later than I should have been up, picturing how funny I would be, how novel my idea was. I imagined it being a video diary of sorts, a way to motivate myself while serving to induce hilarity in my many, many followers.
Perhaps I didn't convey the idea very well to the people I told, but their blank looks told me they would definitely not be my target audience. While we can never let others dictate what we do in life, or make us think our ideas are less than brilliant (within reason), the light of day some times tells us that some idea are best left for another day.
So yeah, onto the next idea. Or maybe I'll just go write.
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
* * *
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…
* * *
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.
When I was in middle school the most risky, scintillating book we read covertly in the hallways and during study halls was Go Ask Alice. This book about a teenage girl who spirals into drug addiction was about much deeper issues, obviously. But I can remember reading alongside my friends passages filled with cursing and sex. It was horrifying and yet at the same time, exciting to read such gritty, dark stuff. A cursory look at Amazon shows me it's still a bestseller. But I wonder if teens have the same reaction me and my peers had back in the day, or do they possibly read it now for it's true content? Because I've noticed a shift in YA that's more mature and sexual in nature.
Back in my day when I was reading the likes of RL Stine, Christopher Pike, Richie Tankersley Cusick, and LJ Smith, the teens in those books stayed pretty clean. There were no sex scenes, nor were they ever really implied. Pike bordered a little bit more on the risky side of sex, but it was still fairly chaste. Flash forward and as a woman in my thirties, I've read a number of YA books that have sex. Take the House of Night series by Kristin and PC Cast, which even goes so far as to portray oral sex in scenes. I recently read the Goddess Test series by Aimee Carter, and while there's no sex scenes, sex is definitely happening and is heavily implied.
When I wrote Fractured Dream, the first in my epic fantasy series, I did not write directly for any age group. My intention was to just write a high fantasy adventure novel, much like the ones I'd read growing up found in the Fantasy/Sci-fi section of the book store. So when I put one sex scene in it, I assumed it would be marketed for more adult audiences even though I'd increasingly been reading YA books with sex in them.
Once it was out in the market, however, Fractured Dream began to get slotted into the YA category by readers and bloggers. And while there have been a couple of readers I've noticed who thought perhaps the sexual content was more adult than it should be in the YA genre, sex seems to be a more accepted element in YA books overall.
And yet, had I been writing with a strictly teen audience in mind, I would have left that scene out, truthfully. Even despite knowing that I read all sorts of graphic sex scenes as a young reader from books outside the YA genre. When I started writing The Reaper's Daughter I always had a YA audience in mind for it and like the books of my day, it's more Christopher Pike-ish in the sex department.
I do think the change going on in YA of today, however, is an attempt to be realistic. Teens do have sex. They deal in all sorts of situations and to portray them all as virgins or never really addressing sex between young characters is not based in reality. This shift in YA makes writing it a bit more exciting, because there can be a more gritty factor, and that's what I like to do best, write fantasy and paranormal around relationships based in a real context.
WHAT DO YOU THINK? IS YA GROWING UP?
My talented and amazing sister put together this awesome book trailer for Fractured Dream. It's got exactly the epic feel that the book has. I hope you enjoy!
A fellow author from Booktrope asked some of us lady authors to join a blog hop, which I've never really done before. So I thought it would be fun! The following questions are on writing, so if you're interested in where I write, how names are chosen, reading reviews and that sort of thing, read on. Thank you to Tiffany Pitts, author of Double Blind, for letting me be a part of the hop! Additional thanks to Arleen Williams, author of Running Secrets and Biking Uphill for introducing me on her blog.
Where do you like to write?
I have my own office but I spend all day in it working as an editor for an online publication so when it's time to let my creative juices flow I usually end up on my couch in my living room or family room. Although, I do find that when I'm getting tired if I go up to my office at the end of the night I can usually sneak in another hour. Something about the room just wakes me up. I think it's because I already work within the space, so the energy is different, more caffeinated.
Which part of researching your current novel was most interesting?
Well, I'm almost done writing the first draft of my work-in-progress, so I usually save a lot of research and filling in for the second draft. But I had to do some research for the overall characters and it's definitely been the mythology. Death-based mythology to be specific. The book, a paranormal young adult novel called The Reaper's Daughter, threads various death deities within the storyline, and it's been fun learning about the way Death takes shape within different countries and cultures.
How important are names to you in your books? How do you choose them?
I just wrote a guest post on this that's going up soon and will be more in-depth, but names mean a lot to me. The main character in my recently released novel Fractured Dream is named Story Sparks. But in the eight years it took me to write the book, she was only Story for the last year or so. I always knew the name she had previously wasn't the one, and it took a lot of searching and thinking about it until I came up with THE ONE. And it really was perfect for the story once I found it. I search for names that have meaning, names that fit the character's personality or the theme of the book. If I'm not doing that, I'll often find a name I just love if it seems to fit the character. But if the name doesn't fit I don't feel at one with my character, so it's definitely a big part of my writing.
Do you read your reviews? How do you respond to the bad reviews (if you get them)?
I'm a newbie as authors go, with my first book only having been released this past June. So I read reviews and was fairly obsessed with them in the beginning. The awesome reviews are just that: awesome and amazing and wonderful. I'm realizing everyone gets a bad review eventually. Reading is such a subjective experience; what one person might love another person may hate. Any negative reviews have made me more aware of where other people in the market are at, what they like and dislike. And while I'd never change the story in my head to make a minority happy, it is eye opening and it's good to have this awareness as I near finishing up my second book.
What are your favorite books to give as gifts?
I love to give Summer Sisters by Judy Blume, anything by Alice Hoffman and Annie Dillard and of course, A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. I also just like to tell people about this book or that book I read and get them to try it as well.
That's all folks! Check out the next author taking part in the blog hop!
Melissa Thayer, author of The Stories We Don't Tell
Sin City native Melissa Thayer writes fiction that touches upon the timeless truths of the human condition in poignant and thought-provoking ways. She enjoys writing about people and connecting readers with her characters.
She currently lives in Washington with her husband, daughter, and three cats.
THE STORIES WE DON'T TELL is her debut novel.
If anyone is interested in being part of a Book Blast for Fractured Dream starting July 28 and running through July 31, you can fill out this form here:
See below for dates on a blog tour and other events if interested in participating. Thanks for your support!
REQUEST REVIEW COPY
Want to promo the series or participate in the blog tour?
Book Blast (July 28th-July 31)
Blog Tour (Sept 9th – 29th)
Twitter Blast (Sept 8th – 12th)
Book Blitz (Sept 8th)
I've read a lot of poetry lately from fellow writers floating around on Facebook and authors' blogs. I used to be really into it when I was a teenager and even in my early twenties. But at some point it became less of a focus, or else I just lost my knack for it. But I've always loved to read it. I have books that belonged to my mother and my grandfather before her, that I'd sit with, endlessly flipping pages and trying to find the perfect poem to describe a mood or situation. A lot of angst-ridden teens, or even those without the angst, tend to get in on the moody word play that can be so satisfying in the art of poetry.
I honestly haven't written a poem in years at this point except to have put together a prophecy for my novel, Fractured Dream, and that sort of writing is kin to poetry. But I thought I'd share one I wrote when I was 20 or so. This was after my first love broke my heart and I was left picking up the grainy pieces. And then the second is just my favorite poem from when I was younger. I used to read it over and over. It's about death, which is morbid, but it's also about endless love. And I think that's what I liked best about it.
The poem by me is called I Loved You Last. I actually had it published in some book at the time, but it was one of those set-ups where you sent in a poem and, to actually get a published copy of it, you had to spend $20 or so to buy the hardcover book, which in this case was called The Brilliance Of Night: The International Library of Poetry. I don't really think they were too discerning about who they put in the book. What can I say, I was young, naive and broken-hearted . . . I do have the book though. It sits on a shelf beneath my coffee table, although the cover is by now pretty worn. I did get to show the boy in question some years later the poem I had written after he'd so effectively torn my heart asunder. But by then, I was of course beyond the apology that was issued, although it was appreciated. Hearts break all the time and sometimes poetry is borne from it. I've since found two loves of my life, my husband and son, so this poem is just a blast from the past, but the heart healed long ago. You can be the judge of whether it was bad or good.
I Loved You Last
Do you remember when we first sat there and you told me you loved me? My gaze drifting away uneasily as I slightly smiled and said, "Thank you."
And you claimed you'd love me until the end of eternity, and that roses would never smell so sweet, and that the sun would never burn so hot, and the wind would never feel so right if I wasn't there.
Do you remember when I first started to love you, when your smile shone from the depths of your soul and I couldn't help but fall, my "thank yous" stopped and "I love yous" began?
It somehow seemed at the end that it was I that loved you more, and the irony has fallen deeply on me since you've gone away, for the snow is not as fresh, nor the autumn leaves as beautiful, nor the night's deep stillness as mysterious since you've gone away.
You loved me first, but I loved you last.
Now, reading the below poem, I remember why I liked it so much as a teenager. One, I think I was really into the fact that she had dark brown hair, like me, and thin lips, also like me. I was self-conscious at the time that I didn't have the lush, full lips of all the girls in the books I was reading, or the movies as well as some of my actual friends. Second, I was fascinated with death, the afterlife. At that time in my life, my one friend and I had weekly sessions with the Ouija Board. And of course, finally, this poem is also a love story. I'm not the same teenage girl, but I do still love this poem. I like it now because I like what it says about living beyond death (my aging self likes to believe there's something beyond), and that love never dies, which my now-jaded spirit can still get in line with. I'm a writer after all.
He and She
"She is dead!" they said to him; "come away;
Kiss her and leave her—thy love is clay!"
They smoothed her tresses of dark brown hair;
On her forehead of stone they laid it fair;
With a tender touch they closed up well
The sweet thin lips that had secrets to tell;
About her brows and beautiful face
They tied her veil and her marriage lace;
And over her bosom they crossed her hands,
"Come away! they said; "God understands."
And they held their breath till they left the room,
With a shudder, to glance at its stillness and gloom.
But who he loved her too well to dread
The sweet, the stately, the beautiful dead,
He lighted his lamp and took the key
And turned it—alone again, he and she.
He and she; yes she could not smile,
Though he called her the name she loved erewhile.
He and she; but she would not speak,
Though he kissed, in the old place, the quiet cheek.
He and she; still she did not move
To any one passionate whisper of love.
Then he said: "Cold lips and breast without breath,
Is there no voice, no language of death,
"Dumb to the ear and still to the sense,
But to heart and to soul distinct, intense?
"See now; I will listen with soul, not ear.
What was the secret of dying, dear?
"Was it the infinite wonder of all
That you ever could let life's flower fall;
"Or was it a greater marvel to feel
The perfect calm o'er the agony steal?
"Was the miracle greater to find how deep
Beyond all dreams sank downward that sleep?"
"Did life roll back its records, dear;
And show, as they say it does, past things clear?
"And was it the innermost part of the bliss
To find out so, what a wisdom love is?
"O perfect dead! O dead most dear,
I hold the breath of my soul to hear!
"There must be pleasure in dying, sweet,
To make you so placid from head to feet!
"I would tell you, darling, if I were dead,
And 't were your hot tears upon my brow shed--
"I would say, though the Angel of Death had laid
His sword on my lips to keep it unsaid.
"You should not ask vainly, with streaming eyes,
Which of all deaths was the chiefest surprise,
"The very strangest and suddenest thing
Of all the surprises that dying must bring."
Ah, foolish world! O most kind dead!
Though he told me, who will believe it was said?
Who will believe that he heard her say,
With the sweet, soft voice, in the dear old way;
"The utmost wonder of this—I hear,
And see you, and love you, and kiss you, dear;
"And am your angel, who was your bride,
And know that, though dead, I have never died."
--Sir Edwin Arnold
I can't believe the day is almost here when I'll finally get to see my book on sale and in print. In three days, on Saturday, Fractured Dream (The Dreamer Saga) will go live. But I think it will be most real for me when I hold it in my hands.
Thank you to everyone that helped me get here, and to all those reviewers out there giving my book a presence. Saturday is a day to celebrate, not only it is my son's third birthday, but it's the birth of my book on the market.
Nine years ago the seed of an idea was planted in my head. It took me eight years to finish it, and now almost nine to see the idea come to fruition into a published book. And now it's here. But my desire to be a published author has always existed, from the first scribblings of poetry when I was six, in my hunger for reading, and for the many books begun but never finished. It's been a long journey, and it's not done yet. I've got two more books in this series and another book I'm working on right now, with many more stories knocking around in my head. This time it won't take me eight years. And I can't wait to give them all life. Thanks again to everyone and also to my current and future readers. Those who would criticize reading as a way to escape must never have experienced the beauty of finding comfort, enjoyment and solace in being taken away by an incredible story. Who doesn't need to escape once in a while? Reading is by far one of the most healthy forms of escapism. I I hope I can do for my readers what so many writers have done for me, which is to allow me to escape to new worlds and ideas.
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.