The “Normal” World vs. Otherworldy Ones: A Mash-Up of Book Looks.

And then there’s the world that belongs to writers, who have to straddle both the “real” world, and the “unreal” ones.

Which leads me to the first book I’ll take a looksie at.

I read Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. (Link: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King | Goodreads) I loved the stories he shared. And I wished things were still “old-school” when it came to writing: pen, paper, hard copies, mailed-in submissions, things like that. But I don’t have much to say about the book, overall. Except my takeaway is that writing is private, until the day comes when it can’t be private anymore. And reading books on writing is also a private experience. I can’t share what I was thinking and feeling when I read his book. Maybe some can. There’s a whole bunch of people that have written about it on Goodreads. I think why I struggle in writing reviews sometimes is that my experiences with literature tend to not only be personal, but multilayered and multidimensional and that writing about how I felt when I was reading a book is like sharing that wonderfully vivid dream you had last night that ends up being profound and mystical and discernable only to you.

And I was thinking about the need for a certain level of privacy, either as a writer, or as the person undergoing an intensive deconditioning process to find their real selves. Living in both my past livespace, and my current one, has helped me realize that, as much as I’d like to have the low-maintenance condo-type livespace to own, it’s just not private enough. I feel like I’ve lost an imagined, perhaps never-had, autonomy.

Then I was cleaning out some of my files on my computer, and deleting the blog posts I’d saved back from when I first started blogging. (Ouch!) And I realized that maybe privacy is old-school, but one habit I still like to indulge in, even though everything in today’s world seems to demand otherwise. But I had one thought while scanning through my old blog posts: “This shit belongs in a diary.” So I’m going to try to unearth at least one diary from my unpacked boxes, and have a place for my private thoughts. And for my dreams of a livespace surrounded by wilderness and animals and no neighbours that go bumping around in the daytime.

This talk of privacy is a segue in to my next book look: Normal People by Sally Rooney. (Link: Normal People by Sally Rooney | Goodreads )One of the characters, Marianne, is defined as a private loner in contrast to the other main character,who is one of the more popular kids in school. These two characters have an off-again, on-again relationship, and I wanted to relate to Marianne, but I couldn’t. Maybe just memories, the past, I don’t know. It has nothing to do with the writing or the quality of the book, which was excellent, but I felt so sad and sometimes irked reading about the characters’ fates and life choices. I have a hard time getting into literary fiction these days, despite the fact I loved reading the classics back when I was a kid. But maybe it’s the drama I struggle with. I can’t bear the reality, even as displayed through fictional characters, of their pain, their struggles, their heartbreak, their…drama. I can handle it through other genres but literary fiction is just too…real?…maybe. And Marianne reminded me of an certain friend.  With literary fiction, I come with oversensitivity baggage (I feel every little pinprick of people’s hurt and confusion and moods), and it’s difficult for me to read books, no matter how good they are, that vicariously provide an examination of emotional baggage through their characters and the story. So I’ll just have to leave the literary fiction analysis to more experienced, and, perhaps, more impartial readers. Readers who are okay with life being a little messy in their fiction.

Which is not to say I can’t handle messy loss and emotional upheaval or even messier blood-n-guts in genre literature. It’s different somehow, in genres like speculative fiction.

I read somewhere online that people are really turning to thrillers (Found it! Link: Now, More Than Ever, Is the Time for ‘Escapist Fiction’ ‹ CrimeReads) right now, and I’m coming to terms with the fact that not only do I like “escapist fiction” it’s okay to like it, and it doesn’t make me unintellectual and such (part of my current deconditioning process).

It’s okay not to embrace literary fiction right now, if ever. It has its place among readers, definitely!

So, in the words of the author of the above article, V. M. Burns (Link: VM Burns – Mystery Writer) I much prefer books that  “…create an imaginary world that the reader can escape into rather than focusing on the deeper realities/issues of the characters imaginary existence.”

And two books I recently read were perfect in that role.

Mrs. Perivale and the Blue Fire Crystal and Mrs. Perivale and the Dragon Prince–both by Dash Hoffman. They are the first two books in the series. I think there may  be at least another one coming, but I don’t have too much information on forthcoming books. I do know that I can’t wait to read the other books this author has penned.

The book series opens with seventy-three year-old Mrs. Alice Perivale who feels undervalued in the world, but is about to begin her biggest adventure(s) yet! Even better, she’s accompanied on this fantastical new adventure by her seven cats! Check it out to see if the knitting-needle-wielding Alice Perivale saves the magical village from a dire fate: Got-Moxie Bookshelf (got-moxie.com).

The only problem with escapist literature is that I haven’t yet found the key to a magical world of my own imagination…yet!

But I’ll keep looking…the portal has to be around here, somewhere!

“Five Things Friday” Interview with Author David Lee Summers!

Here’s the next “Five Things Friday” interview with speculative fiction author (and astronomer) David Lee Summers! Hope you enjoy!

Willow Croft: One thing I hated to give up in leaving New Mexico was the clear skies, especially with the occurrence of the conjunction event (Wichita has an absolutely obscene amount of light pollution!). So, in honour of all things galactic, what’s your favourite astronomical phenomenon to date, from your astronomer perspective?

David Lee Summers: I would have a hard time giving up the clear skies of the Southwest and I’m sorry you missed the conjunction event. It was very cool. That said, I think one of the most exciting things I’ve seen through a telescope was Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 just a few days before it hit Jupiter back in 1995. The comet itself resembled a cosmic string of pearls. On top of that, I was working with Vera Rubin, the woman who made the observations that led to the discovery of dark matter.

Willow Croft: If you could dine on any fictional off-world (off-Earth) cuisine/dish, what would it be, and what would you imagine it tastes like?

David Lee Summers: In my novel Heirs of the New Earth, a character brings a dish called ruas’ordah to a party. It’s purple mush from a planet called Rd’dyggia. I imagine it tastes like green chile hummus. I would totally make this. I may have to experiment with some recipes and post it to my blog if I create something I like!

Willow Croft: Since you are a speculative fiction author, and with a nod to your “2020 Foresight” blog post (https://davidleesummers.wordpress.com/2020/01/11/2020-foresight/), how do you foresee the events of the next ten years unfolding? How would you wish they would unfold, and how do you imagine society being ten years from now? Where do you envision yourself being in ten years?

David Lee Summers: This is a good question, since I think we’re at a real crossroads moment in history and a lot depends on how well we’re able to get the COVID-19 pandemic under control and how people respond to recent events in Washington D.C.

Taking a hopeful stance, I think we’ll bring the pandemic under control in the next year or so. I hope our experiences with remote work and remote events will allow us to continue these things to a certain extent after the pandemic. I look forward to seeing people again at in-person conventions, for example, but I’ve also had the opportunity to attend and speak at conventions I couldn’t have if I had been required to pay for transportation. I’m also hopeful that the dramatic political events surrounding the confirmation of Joe Biden’s presidential win will help politicians bridge the exaggerated “aisle” they dug between the two American parties so they can actually get some good work done.

Within the next decade, I’m betting we’ll find evidence of life outside the Earth. Such a discovery will help us better understand our place in the universe. I fear climate change will worsen, but hope we can make changes that will slow it down. In short, I hope the world will be a better, safer place in ten years than it is today, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find we have new challenges that we can’t even begin to imagine now.

As for me, I still plan to be writing. I hope to try my hand at expanding what I do into comics, audio and maybe even some video of some form. I hope to wrap up my Wilderness of the Dead horror series and maybe work on some other steampunk projects I have in mind.

Willow Croft: Would you travel into space, or are you content with being Earthbound? Why, or why not? Alternatively, what region of space would you like to visit?

David Lee Summers: I would definitely travel into space if I could. I feel like travel on Earth has always expanded my consciousness and given me new perspectives. Going into space would take that to a whole new level. I would love to visit Mars to see the deserts and experience the night sky from its surface. I’m enough of a rock hound to know it would be exciting to wander its surface and see what stories the rocks tell.

Willow Croft: And, of course, have you ever seen an UFO or had any close encounters? What kind of Earth food is their favourite, if so?

David Lee Summers: I have never personally seen a UFO, but I did meet a man who claimed to be one of the beings seen by Lonnie Zamora during the Socorro “close encounter of the third kind” from 1964. Does that count? He liked fresh grilled salmon and really liked his beer!

Find out more about David Lee Summers and his writing/publishing projects, here:

Website: http://www.davidleesummers.com

Blog: https://davidleesummers.wordpress.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/davidleesummers

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/davidleesummers

Company: http://www.hadrosaur.com

Wednesday in Blue Minor…

 

Anybody else out there just want to go curl up in bed and go back to sleep? 

Maybe you’re already well on your way into the deep blue sea of Dreamland.

It’s a deep blue day over here in the Willow realm, and yet not quite blue enough.

We had a record-setting snowfall here in Wichita, but the snow is already all melted, so it’s not the blue-frost day I keep expecting to see when I look out my window.

Being a writer/creative type, I can sometimes feel another world right alongside this one, but I don’t have the magic password or a magic wardrobe to get there. But it’s there all the same, and it’s quite the teaser sometimes. Magical and real, but not magical enough to actually become real. 

But in the book with the blue cover I read last week, the world of magic or just otherworldliness becomes accessible from the “real” world.

Voice of the Sword (Sword, Mirror, Jewel #1)

I’m trying to avoid comparing it to a certain other book that features a young wizard (who, honestly, I might not have liked so much as the books went on if it hadn’t been for his amazing circle of friends), but Voice of the Sword: Book One by John Paul Catton did have a similar sense of magic within its pages.

I’ve read so much in my life—history, world religions, classics, fiction, horror, et al–that I sometimes feel like there’s a “been there, done that” familiarity to everything. 

And there’s a certain comfort to that, because it makes Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry feel like it could be real because of that literary-obtained familiarity.

I didn’t think I was as uninformed about Japanese culture and mythology as I actually (embarrassing as it is to admit!) am.

But, because of that, this book was even more of a novel, exciting read. I had the chance to leave my jaded-reader persona behind and fully immerse myself into the adventurous quest right alongside of the main character Reiko Bergman. And getting schooled about Japanese mythology and culture during the book’s quest was even more of a perk!

So, if you want to escape from this world for a while, you can add it to your “to-read” list here:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49457586-voice-of-the-sword

 

What books have taken you out of this world lately? Share below…

 

Winter Solstice and Ice Dreams…

I hope you all are enjoying this winter solstice and have hot chocolate and blankets ready for the conjunction viewing tonight. Alas, there is so much light pollution here, and my new locale is lit up so brightly I’m surprised you can’t see it from outer space.

There’s a little teeny part of me that’s expecting something momentous to happen, even though I fall more on the skeptic’s side of things. But I’ll settle for the veil between worlds to thin so that I can spend some time with my ghost cats of season’s past. I miss them.

I don’t even know about the veil-thinning thing, but I have been thinking a lot about the past. Many of my poems have elements taken from experiences I’ve had in the past, and turned into what-might-have-been second chances, or alternate dimensions.

The spec fic story (“The Ice Dream of the Crow”) I wrote for Excalibur’s Books’ Phantom Games: Dimensions Unknown 2020 was inspired by my grandmother’s boyfriend Ernie (he died some time ago). As the story goes, he was an excellent skater, and worked at the Lake Placid Olympics. From the family’s written record of the story, he laid the flag under the ice, and escorted Sonja Henie onto the ice. He was gifted an ice skater ornament for his work on the Olympics, which is still in the family.

So, if you’re looking to escape into an alternate reality and want to experience a fictional journey to the Games, and can’t wait for them to start next year, check out the anthology by clicking on the link here: Phantom Games: Dimensions Unknown 2020 or here https://www.amazon.com/Phantom-Games-Dimensions-2020/dp/B08KQP53X2/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Thanks, and enjoy the rare conjunction tonight! Merry solstice!

A “Gateway to Magic” for the Holidays!

Happy Hanukkah! Happy holidays! etc etc.!

(Featured Book: Gateway to Magic by Annabelle Franklin which I purchased not too long ago.)

Oddly enough, even though I wrote middle grade manuscript, and tried to read as much as I could in the genre beforehand, I still feel that it’s one of my cutoffs in regards to actual reading-for-pleasure. (In my defense, it probably was even back when I WAS a middle grade reader.)

Luckily for Annabelle Franklin, there are now kids among all us grumpy old people in our family. So now I can say, “they are going to love this book”. 

Well, I don’t really know if they are going to love it, because I’m sure kids get tired of hearing what they like and don’t like and what they should like, but I’m still going to pass on this book to them, in hopes they like it.

After all, at least one of them loves reading, another likes adventure video games, and this book has a little of both. Well, sort of. But what is does have for sure is fairies and magic and goblins and monsters and . . . well, I’ll let you (or your kids) read it to find out what sort of ending it has.

Because anything goes in Annabelle Franklin’s wacky fairyland, where the magical denizens of the fae realm are not always the cutesy, glitter-spewing fairies Disney has taught us to expect. (After all, Grimm–and many others–wrote fairies the ‘real’ way too!)

Here’s the link on Amazon, should you still need to do some last-minute holiday gift shopping for the little imps in your own family! (Just DO NOT press the big red button!)

Gateway to Magic on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Gateway-Magic-Annabelle-Franklin/dp/1530767083/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

P.S. She has another book for kids available on Amazon as well: https://www.amazon.com/Slapstyx-Annabelle-Franklin/dp/1518686982/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

 

Monday Mayhem and Magic

So, the universe’s longest move is down to the final days. I’ve mixed feelings about leaving New Mexico…mainly revolving around health care coverage, which I have in New Mexico, but may not have in Kansas. But I’ll have internet, and things look promising on the “day job” employment front.

In all the mayhem, I’m trying to keep up with the business and social media side of my writing career…and the exciting news is that I’m still getting stories published! And I have a story published in Excalibur Books’ awesome anthology–The Phantom Games: Dimensions Unknown 2020.

The story that appears in this anthology was inspired by a notable event in my grandmother’s boyfriend’s, Ernie Scribner, life.

This anthology was meant to be released with the Tokyo Olympics, which had to be rescheduled for next year (the Olympics, not the anthology). Check out the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Phantom-Games-Dimensions-2020/dp/B08KQP53X2

As Ernie’s  story goes, as I was told/remember the tale. He worked at the 1932 Lake Placid Olympics, where he laid the flag under the ice in the skating arena. Being an excellent ice skater, he also had the opportunity to escort Sonja Henie onto the ice.

To commemorate his contribution to the Winter Olympics, he was given this ornament.

iceskater2dpi

Hope your Halloween had lots of magical mayhem and wonder!

Signing off for now…