This month, I've been participating in two different challenges. The #ABookTaughtMe challenge encourages me to share about the books that have taught me different things about life. The #WIPjoy challenge prompts me to share different aspects about my work in progress. If you've been following me on Twitter and Facebook, you know that I'm very inspired by these challenges and have been sharing every day. So I wanted to share some things that won't fit into a Tweet.
The #ABookTaughtMe challenge has brought to mind so many wonderful books, books that I have enjoyed over and over and some that I have read only once. The challenge reminds me something that I think we forget: Books literally change people.
When I read the Redwall series, I was caught up in the drama of an everyday mouse becoming a great warrior who purged his land of evil rats and snakes and other creepies. I wanted Martin and Matthias's courage and loyalty and perseverance, and to return victorious to a home of simplicity and fellowship.
Then I read the Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander and I saw the price that warriors pay. There is a certain glory and nobility, but there is pain and loss and heartbreak too. There is the fight against the enemy and the fight against yourself. And you can never truly go back to the life you had before, because you have changed too much.
Those books helped me to understand heroism, each in their own way.
When I read the Queen's Thief series, I saw how people can intentionally misrepresent themselves, hide themselves from others so they will not be seen for what they are (either good or bad). I also saw how sometimes people don't even have to try to hide themselves; sometimes we see them only as we expect to see them, and miss the evidence that they could be something else. We blind ourselves from seeing others truly. It made me think about the ways we judge people and try to hide our true selves.
I can name book after book, some I liked and some I didn't, that all helped me to see life differently, to broaden my horizons, to recognize possibilities.
Books change us, for better or for worse. What sort of people do we want to become?
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This month, I've been sharing about my work-in-progress, for which the working title is "Rafe and the Ria Gate."
Every story is as different from the story before it as siblings are from each other. Same parents, but totally unique personalities. But when I say this story is different, I mean it's something special to me.
RAFE is the story that I've been wanting to write since I was a little girl.
Back then, I had a family of dolls that felt as real and personal to me as an actual family. Each doll had a name, a birthday, a special personality, definite talents and skills. I wanted to write a story that showed who they were, but every time I tried, it seemed cheesy and stupid.
I also wanted to write a sort of autobiography about my life growing up in Vermont with five siblings, of the snow-forts we made, the berries we picked, the mountains we hiked, the bonfires we built, the stupid petty arguments we worked out, and all the joys and roughness of rural living. But every time I tried, I got too wrapped up in the details and forgot the essence of the story.
Aaaaand I had about half a dozen different speculative fiction ideas that came to me over the years but seemed completely disjointed from any projects I had planned. I shoved them in the back of my mental vault. But I didn't forget them.
Sometime last year, the ideas began to coalesce into one wild, crazy idea. A story about a boy with a mysterious past, who comes to Vermont and begins a new life with a large family. Each person in the family would be based off of my dolls' personalities, and many of the events in my story would be fictionalized from my real-life experiences. Wrap it up with a sci-fi twist, and it's the story that incorporates everything I most enjoy.
I have never tried a project that incorporated so much of myself or so many different genres before.
But it feels right. It feels like the story that I was always meant to write.
Here's a bit from the very beginning:
Rafe could not remember why he had run away, but he felt deeply that he was not, in fact, running away from home but to home. But that was ridiculous. No one ran to home, did they?
In a way, I think the stories that teach us and the stories that we share are connected. RAFE would not have been possible without my experiences, true, but it also would not have been possible without The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia and the Westmark Trilogy and The Queen's Thief Series and A Wrinkle in Time series and too many others to name.
I had to see myself and life through the lens of other stories before I could understand which story was truly my own. (Click to tweet this)
What book taught you something important about life?
What story have you felt you always wanted to share with others?
Tell me all about it!
I write YA/adult fantasy & sci-fi that explores fantastic and interconnected worlds, with stories that burn through the darkest realities with hope and redemption.
Learn more here!