Guest blogging has been so rewarding in 2019, and I look forward to many many more. Please enjoy this post on my friend Lola’s blog, Raising a Baby Activist. We’d love to hear what you think and always appreciate a share, like or comment!
Click here to read my blog post and to learn more about Lola and her amazing blog!
Here’s hoping the holiday season is merry and bright for all!
Sending you love and light all year long,
Author of the #1 New Release, Jake the Growling Dog, (as Samantha Shannon) & of binge-worthy fantasy and paranormal books at Rawlings Books, LLC.
What a fantastic summer this has been so far. I can’t thank everyone enough for all of the tremendous support for my first picture book, Jake the Growling Dog. It has been a #1 New Release in multiple children’s books categories, including books about tolerance, dogs, intermediate readers, and social skills. My illustrator, Kerrie Joyce, and I are overwhelmed with excitement for what is happening and for what is the come. (I may have sent some books to Today and The New York Times Reviewer 😉 )
Guest Blogging Fun!
We continue to collaborate with some awesome momma, family, & literature-loving bloggers.
Last time I was on the Lit Musing’s podcast I shared with you about how my interest in fantasy helped shaped my life as well and how it introduced me to all things magical. Today, I want to discuss one of my favorite tv series, a series I’m sure many of you can share with me. Charmedwas a show I definitely could relate to. With not only one, but three very strong and capable female leads, and a never-ending supply of baddies to take on, this show, which aired every Wednesday, was my escape from the pressures of school and everyday life.
More than anything, I wanted to be like Pru, Piper, and Phoebe. Each sister represented a colorful personality, and when together, nothing could stop the trio. I remember thinking about how I also had three sisters, and how maybe one day, I’d discover we were special too. It’s these connections that kept me going, out of trouble, and in the ever-changing world of fantasy. This will be a show I watch with my own daughter one day, because I want her to know that even when things get tough, you can rely on family and your own strength to get you through the hardest of situations. That the light can always find a way to shine through any crack, no matter how small. No matter how much my sisters and I fought, at the end of the day, Charmed brought us together. How powerful is that?!
What I couldn’t get enough of was how this show related to real-world situations, and how they mixed zesty magical twists between sisters, but also offered up situations one would run into from day-to-day. I could go on about this show forever if you let me, so I will let you guys tell me in the comments who your favorite character was, and why! Don’t be shy guys!
What I’m most excited about, is discussing the new spins we’re being introduced to with the remakes of shows like Sabrinaand Charmed. How we’re being introduced to the pressures of our modern society, and how we’ve come together as a nation to denounce bullying!!! These are all great topics, so let’s hear from you all in the comments.
While we’re on the subject of powerful women, let me take you back to my high school years. To the good ol’ times where the only place you could find me, was in our small school library, zealously tucked away, soaking in every paranormal and fantasy read I could before I went home. I was lucky enough to have found one of my favorite female writers at an early age. Kelley Armstrong introduced me to the world of werewolves beginning with her well known masterpiece, Bitten.
Her incredible descriptions in Bittenreeled me in, empowering me to rush through the rest of the series, centered around Elena Michaels, the only known female werewolf. The idea of Elena being the only surviving woman to have survived a lycanthrope’s bite was just the ticket I needed to survive the pressures and drama of my budding high school life. I invite you to discuss with us in the comments about your favorite Kellie Armstrong book! My favorites were the first three, Bitten, Stolen, and Dime Store Magic.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
It’s all in the name!
Did you all know that Warner Bros. really wanted the show to be called Slayer. Whedon refused. (In Whedon We Trust!)
Other actresses who auditioned for Buffy included Katie Holmes, Selma Blair and Charisma Carpenter, who went on to play Cordelia…which was the original role SMG auditioned for.
Ryan Reynolds could’ve played Xander…but turned the role down. And clearly was never heard from again.
The Neverending Story
Since we spoke a good deal about this movie last time, I dredged up some goodies to share with you all.
This was the most expensive film in German history, and Michael Ende, the books author, publicly bashed the finished product, calling the movie, “revolting.” The main character, Atreyu was originally supposed to be green.Inthe book, Atreyu had blue hair and green skin.
Thanks for having me once again, and I can’t wait for our next podcast this month when we focus on the theme: Fate vs. Destiny.
A Fantasy, Paranormal, and Sci-fi Love Story Continues
Last month I discussed the sources that inspired my love for magic. This topic poured over into our first podcast. I mostly discussed movies that inspired me when I was a young child, I’ve decided to continue the topic by moving it to up in years, which to me is still in the ’80s and ’90s (two of the best decades I might add), and relating to books I’ve read or written as well.
Let’s jump right in!
The NeverEnding Story: 1984
The gloriousness of The NeverEnding Story still translates with my kiddos today. This magical movie touched on bullying and loss as well as the power of believing and letting those you’ve lost still live in inside of you even when it can be too hard to even think of them at times.
The movie opens with our lead character, Bastian, being bullied to the point where he has to hide in a dumpster. Later, the boy received a book and found a place to experience the story. While in his world he only appears to be reading, the viewers are sent through a portal into another world where the “nothing” is hellbent on destroying all of Fantasia. Without giving away those dreaded “spoilers,” I’ll just reveal that the story progresses and this normal human boy somehow has power over a place so magical. He doesn’t even believe it himself and makes fantastic friends along the way.
And I have to talk about Falcor: Yes I have a dog that looks like him, how did I not name him that? He almost got named Walker after looking like those formidable dark side, ground assault monstrosities, but we settled on Bodhi. Hey, I was going to name my youngest daughter Anakin if she was a boy, would have been awesome, right?
Magical Worlds and Dimensions in Fantasy Novels
Other worlds, other dimensions had always fascinated me, especially when a seemingly unimportant human became a part of it before realizing their strength, power, and heart when they never thought any of it was possible. While re-reading A Wrinkle in Time, written in 1962, with my oldest, it had me thinking of how the book also sparked the interest in dimensional travel. I knew I loved the novel, but the deep science in those pages was something I had completely forgotten.
Aside from A wrinkle in time, Running with the Demon by Terry Brooks, stars a 14-year-old girl from Illinois, Nest Freemark has a connection to the darkness that may impact the future. In this story, another normal kid has the power, magic, and a crucial impact on the future. It as the also the first time I read something from Mr. Brooks that had such a strong female as his main character. Something that is now the “it” thing. Finally!
Paving the Way for the Powerful Female Lead
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: 1996-2003
We can’t talk about powerful female leads without focusing on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. No one comes to mind sooner that Buffy when I think of a character I related to, grew alongside, and rooted for every week. I also have all of the DVD’s, and it’s my go-to when I’m bummed or sick.
Buffy was a normal, albeit somewhat shallow (I mean most teenagers are at one time or another, I know I had my moments) high school cheerleader. When she becomes the next Slayer, everything changes. What doesn’t change is the camaraderie with her amazing best friends, AKA Scooby Gang, and she doesn’t give up, even after experiencing heaven.
Human Experiences in a Paranormal World
Joss Whedon and the writing team conquered deep topics on the show. No wonder it’s getting an excellent Buffy sequel to the show. From losing your virginity and the guy turning into a complete “monster,” to losing a loved one, studying for tests, moving, oh and saving the world, the covered it all. I cried alongside Buffy, Xander, Willow, Angel (wait, do vampires cry?), and I continue to love, talk about, and reverently recommend the show to this day.
Buffy also jump-started my love for vampires and werewolves. I admit I am more of a lover of a good vampire/paranormal story in book format, but that may just be due to the trickiness of putting the pictures readers, and the writers, form in their heads to something decent on the big screen. Well, Buffy did it perfectly, as well as a few others. Though when asked who my favorite vampires are I easily list Angel and Spike. Oh, and this guy…
In the film, Blade (1998), was one of the movies that captured another form of the vampire world that I truly enjoyed. Not to mention Stephen Doff’s, Deacon Frost and it’s based on a Marvel comic (don’t get me started on Marvel, but we will discuss soon. We must!).
Though, since I said it already (now I can’t stop thinking about it), Ryan Reynolds was in Blade: Trinity where he proved to be a badass before becoming the Merc with the Mouth, Deadpool. Ahhh, Marvel is everywhere. And I love it!
Lastly, bringing the female lead back into the picture and adding in those werewolves, Lycan, is Underworld. Though this one moves into the 2000s, it was released in 2003, it does star Scott Speedman who was in Felicity, 1998, a very non-paranormal/fantasy/horror show, but worth mentioning nonetheless. I’ve digressed, Underworld stars death dealer vampire, Selene, who thought of all Lycans as the enemy until realizing she’s a tool in a war that started well before her time and over power feuds. Her strength, speed, and glowing blue eyes make her my favorite female vampire of all time.
Paranormal & Urban Fantasy Novels
Continuing forward in time to show the evolution of magic in my life, it was 2012 when I first read The Weird Girls by Cecy Robson. Cecy is the paranormal/urban fantasy author whose characters’ remind me of the female strength and friendship in Buffy. Along with the romance, mystery, and suspense, the novels are pages turners for sure. The Wird Sisters each have powers of their own after being cursed, and they are joined by other creatures, heroes, villains, and those on that blurry line sometimes, werewolves, vampires, ghouls, witches, etc.
I could go on forever, I’m sure, but I’ll button this up for now in hopes that you all will share your favorites in the genres that mingle and intersect on many levels. Let’s focus on science fiction next time so I can give my other faves, Star Wars and Star Trek, some love as well.
Thank you for your continued support and stay tuned for the next podcast that you can find right here, as well as another guest blog by Author Jessica Ozment.
Oh, and Happy Birthday to my dad, the one who inspired by love for all things science, fantasy, and magic!
I wanted to introduce everyone to my partner in crime, my artist with the mostest, my talented co-author and creative master, Jessica Ozment. She’s agreed to jump on the crazy train with me some more and create a podcast. We recorded our first show this week. Right afterward, yes cause I know you’ll love what she brought to the show so much, I wanted to have her put her portion of the show into words for the blog. Below she touches on why she wanted to create a podcast and shares her own experiences that led her to write in the fantasy genre.
You can also listen to the full podcast below. Be gentle, it’s our first time.
Most who know me know that I’m guilty of writing and devouring fantasy novels like there’s no tomorrow and that I’m a graphic designer who enjoys building my business, The Magic Quill Graphics…but there’s actually another side to the indie book world I haven’t tapped into yet, which is odd for me because I’ve dipped my feet into just about everything to do with books. I’ve made it my mission to try my hand at anything I can to make connections with readers who might enjoy the things I not only have to say about the books I read and review, but also the projects I put my blood, sweat, and tears into creating from the ground up.
Expanding our reach
For me, establishing Lit Musings, alongside my incredibly talented co-host, Parker Sinclair, was about allowing me to keep up with my amazing readers in a different way, about gaining those crucial new connections in our community that are geared toward the fantasy genre, and to push the work I’ve stolen countless hours from my family time to create. I like the idea of us not only speaking about books here at Lit Musings, but also many other topics that pop up in the indie world we see from day to day.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who believes the indie community is oversaturated with politics, vague booking, and childish conflicts… for this very reason, it is my goal to steer our listeners into more positive issues that actually have something to do with our profession. I’m looking forward to meeting new fantasy and paranormal authors and having them on the show to speak about what drove them into the Indie pool, and how they’ve grown since then. You’ll also find that I will be doing my best to collect trade tips to help you guys on the road to publishing so that we can grow as a team in this community, rather than every man for himself.
A mother’s lasting gift
The last reason I really want to go this direction with pushing myself to be more transparent in the community is because I lost my mother at a very early age, 14. She always nudged me to put my best foot forward and to develop the creative side of my brain that was always trying to take over anyway. She taught me to read, to write and to love myself. She introduced me to my favorite writer, Stephen King…and through that small action, I was able to connect with her even now, with her being long gone. This show, for me, is dedicated to her memory because without it, I wouldn’t be here today.
Igniting a love for fantasy
THE LITTLE MERMAID
I chose to talk about The Little Mermaid in our first podcast. The biggest reason for this is, I’m a water lover. Anything that has to do with underwater worlds and magic really just draws me in, no matter what it’s about. I think I have probably over 50 fish in my house right now that can attest to this fact! I find it interesting that we still have yet to explore most of the oceans, and that we may find so much more if we just put our minds to it and show a little initiative. I love the story behind the little mermaid because it teaches us to love who we are, to not change who we are because we love, and that there are so many people out there that will take what you love away from you to gain the upper hand. It’s such a strong coming of age movie that I think every girl should watch, young and old.
1.) Did you know that the original story about Ariel actually took off the coast of Denmark, where it is said Arendelle (from the movie Frozen, is set to be closely located.)
2,) Unlike most people I’m sure, I haven’t seen the second movie… which apparently explains that Captain Hook is the one who killed Ariel’s mother…
3.) When designing Ariel, artists used Alyssa Milano’s body as inspiration!
4.) Animating a film is a lot of work, and Disney didn’t have the manpower available. Disney hired the Chinese animation studio Pacific Rim to draw over one million bubbles by hand. Wow!
Another amazingly written series I easily fell in love with is the wonderful wizarding world of Harry Potter. Yes, I’m a nerd, haha! There are so many factors that pushed me to read the books and watch all of the movies, like the fact that a 10-year-old boy who had no idea he was magical suddenly has an entire world at his fingertips. A world which opened its doors to a misguided boy as if he never left. His struggles to gain acceptance from his peers and learn the truth of his past hit home with me, and from there, my love of fantasy first bloomed.
1.) J.K Rowling came up with the names of the Hogwarts Houses on the back of a barf bag, yikes!
2.) Dementors actually represented Rowling’s struggle with depression.
4.) And Rowling wrote the final chapter early on while writing the books.
Thanks for letting me jump in and guest blog today. Be sure to check out my latest publication featured in, Where There’s Murder, There’s Mystery: A Suspense Thriller Anthology. Now available for pre-order at the low price of .99 cents! Click here to pre-order today!
Listen to our first Lit Musings podcast right here!
It’s true; I am a fantasy and sci-fi junkie. I am not sure if I came out of the womb that way or if my parents influence me to be as such, but it’s true. Yes, I am a grown woman, and I wear Harry Potter and Avengers t-shirts (I’ll get to you some other time Thanos, you snap-happy narcissist), and not just to Disney or Universal Studios, I am talking bus stops, shopping, and if you’re lucky, even at happy hour to my hubby’s dismay.
I’ve been struggling with keeping up with my blog, and I know that is bad bad bad, so I realized I need to talk things I know a lot about that relate to what I do, and those are movies and TV shows that are fantasy in nature. I mean it’s how I got to this writing thing in the first place. Since I couldn’t read right away, I’d have to say it was due to the movies and shows my family and I watched. I’d like to highlight the ones that are my earliest recollections. I’ll only talk about two today, because I know we all have better things to do on a Monday; but hey, maybe I’m not alone, and this will take you down memory lane as well.
Even though this movie came out in 1959, I vividly remember driving in the snow to see this movie in the theaters. It must have been a re-showing, and until that darn awesome mermaid, Aurora was my favorite princess of all time. I won’t leave out Maleficent who, to this child, was the scariest villain ever. It was the magic that drew me, the simple glowing fairies, the eternal cursed sleep, the animals dancing and smiling at her as she sang of love, all of it made me fall in love with the fantasy world.
I did see Maleficent when it came out on DVD. I enjoyed the twist in that story versus the Disney version, but I won’t ruin it for you by telling you what that is, I am not a sociopath. HAHAHA (That was non-evil laughing, maybe).
Beyond The Muppets
The Dark Crystal
Jim Henson and Frank Oz were, as always really, super ahead of their time with this one. I am sure it was a little scary for some kiddos who were the primary target for Henson in most of his work. The high fantasy and adventure tale focuses on elf creatures called Gelflings. Two Gelflings, Jen and Kira, go to task to save their world by returning a shared of crystal to its home. The Skeksis are frightening baddies that suck the souls of innocents, and I still see them in my mind when I am creating my monsters. Ack, their voices even, a screeching, a terrifyingly manic sound that doesn’t leave you, or me, ever.
I’ll touch on more movies and shows in my next post. Maybe I’ll lean more towards Sci-fi next time since those are a huge part of my creative flow as well. Stay tuned for me to dork out with Star Wars and Star Trek, and please let me know some of your childhood faves.
My podcast is coming soon, which is appropriately titles Lit Musings. My friend, and fellow author, Jessica Ozment and I are co-hosts. I’ll post the link on my next blog, but here’s our sweet intro for now.
My husband and I have been away two times, a total of 3 nights, since our first daughter was born in 2009. I mention this not to complain or whine about the lack of time away from our girls; no, I am merely highlighting it for each reader to somewhat understand why I was such a basket case leading up to our trip out of the country.
This one trip will be longer than the two trips combined in the last eight years. Yes, I’ve flown across the country to Cali and Las Vegas, and my husband has taken work trips, but this time we were leaving together and enlisted the aid of two amazing grandparents. Was I excited when my hubby surprised me with a trip to the Bahamas? Um, yeah! But when the week started to close in, and we realized how unprepared we were to leave the girls for this amount of time and distance, the mental hang-ups took over.
Here’s a little more background. Our first trip away was for two nights, one night the girls were already asleep when we snuck away, and we were only an hour away. The second trip was two hours away (oh boy) and only for one night. So, we are way out of practice, and we don’t have family close by to whisk away on a whim. We also have a little 5-year old teeny tyrant, which made for quite a bit of stress and worry about how she’d behave for her grandparents.
I like to travel, my husband hates to fly, and we love to explore around Coastal VA since there’s so much to do nearby and neither of us is from the area. Our other little trips had been perfect. This time, we were actually “getting away.” Yes, our trip was super quick (about 3 hours each way), it’s not as if we crossed the pond or took a day to fly to Australia, but it was a big deal for us. Even packing became daunting. All I could think about was how far I was going to be away from the girls, that my husband wouldn’t be home either, and what about the crazy farm we have with a huge labradoodle, our 13-year-old rescue, and mini-panther cat that will cling to my in-laws window screen begging to be let in. I mean it’s crazy enough when we’re all there, and now we were taking ourselves out of the picture.
Our youngest (see tiny tyrant mentioned above) is the wild card. She finds danger, a hint of trouble, and she doesn’t do well with change, or restaurants really. She’s what you call a “strong-willed” child, and the will is strong with that one. My other daughter is a pleaser, she loves to help, and we had no worries about her, or about my in-laws. It was the teensy emergency room heat-seeking missile I concerned about, and yes, that is all my issue for sure! So, as every sane mother would do, I begged her not to sniff out and find trouble, to not touch, climb on, or do this or that. My oldest insisted she’d watch over her as well, but that made me feel even guiltier. I struggled; I may have needed a Xanax, to be honest. I couldn’t even show my husband how thankful and excited I was because I was terrified about the what if’s while we were gone.
One night my husband brought two brandy glasses with a small amount of whiskey in them for us to drink down after dealing with my panicking nature for a couple of days. Yes it helped, for that day, and then the other days came, and we have to review our wills, leaving emergency medical consent, get friends as a back-up, and on and on. At one point the hubby said, “this is the last time I’ll plan something like this.” That just made me sad, and I want to smack myself out of it like the lady freaking the hell out in Airplane. This was a couples vacation, a chance to explore a new place I’ve never experienced before. It’s going to be an adventure for us as a couple, and a retreat for me as a writer. I was thrilled to reconnect with him, to be inspired for my writing, to research for my new books and this very blog. Little did I know my first blog would be all about the panicky mother who feared flying away from her kids to the Bahamas, alongside her awesome husband who is terrified of flying period, what is wrong with us!?!
End of Part 1.
Coming soon, Part 2: We make it to paradise, but what’s happening at home?
Thanks for reading and I’d love to hear your similar stories or comments!
Founder, Owner & Author
Rawlings Books, LLC http://www.RawlingsBooks.com
Author of Trust: The Alex Conner Chronicles Book One, Truth: The Alex Conner Chronicles Book Two, Forbidden: An Alex Conner Chronicle Novella (Book 2.5), & Only: The Alex Conner Chronicles Book Three adult urban fantasy/paranormal romance novels, and the YA Epic Fantasy/HEA Romance novel: Eve of the Exceptionals. Check out samples on Amazon, Smashwords, BN, Kobo, & iBooks.
I’m often asked when and how I started writing. When I think back, most of my writings were either journal entries or poems and lyrics. I love music, something my family ingrained in me from birth. Perhaps that’s why my writing often has a lyrical tone. I enjoyed poetry, still do, and I have used my previously written poetry books in my newest novel, Only: The Alex Conner Chronicles Book Three, using entire or partial poems to begin each chapter. It was incredible to go back in time by using writings that both brought back memories and reawakened raw emotions.
When I released Eve of the Exceptionals, I was able to go into local middle and high schools to speak to students about my journey to becoming a writer and to read from the new YA epic fantasy adventure/happily ever after romance. After working in education in some capacity since I was eighteen years old, it was nice to come back to the schools and have left a lasting impression. From book clubs with fifteen students to multiple class filling an auditorium, each presentation carried a special message about chasing your dreams, following your heart, overcoming even the toughest of roadblocks, and finding your way back.
At the end of each program I took questions, and nearly every time I was asked what guidance I can give to anyone hoping to write a book. The best advice I provided, and still choose to today, is just to let your inhibitions or any feelings of perfection go, and just write. Don’t get stuck on finding the right word, or describing a scene as descriptively as possible. Get it all down first. The story is in your head and I’ve found the process is very organic, so you will get to where your going, and even make some fascinating detours along the way.
The other common question was about how I deal with writer’s block. I’ve found that the more agitated I got with myself for not writing, the worse my wrier’s block became. I think the block can sometimes be our mind telling us to take a break. After the block had gone away, I found my ideas and creativity was overflowing. Other times, I switched to another story idea, or blog, and then came back to where I was stuck–that also seemed to shake things loose.
Whether you are a writer, or dreaming of becoming one, I think we are happiest when we are writing in some capacity. That can be in a journal, writing poems and songs, working on a book, or writing a blog. Just as with the students I visited in my city, I hope sharing my story can help you write yours!
Parker Sinclair is the Author of Trust: The Alex Conner Chronicles Book One, Truth: The Alex Conner Chronicles Book Two, & Forbidden: An Alex Conner Chronicle Novella adult contemporary fantasy novels and my first YA Epic Fantasy novel: Eve of the Exceptionals. Only: The Alex Conner Chronicles Book Three available now for pre-order. Official release date is July 14th! Check out samples for all of my books on Amazon, Smashwords, BN, Kobo, & iBooks.