I write fantasy, and when I’ve told people that over the years, I’ve heard this typical response, “I’m not really into fantasy.” I may be biased, but the more I thought about this, the more I am astonished. How can people not be into fantasy? When I look around and see the birds chirping in the trees, my cat meowing for food and snuggling up to me on my lap, and even when I think about the myriad of different animals that inhabit our planet, I wonder how people can not be into fantasy.
One of the reasons people don’t like fantasy, as I have been told, is that they don’t like all the different creatures. It’s too strange or weird for them. My response is this: Isn’t this world a fantasy? How can one person objectively observe an elephant and not be in awe of its fantastical nature? If I were an alien who arrived on earth for the first time, would I not be overtaken by the fantasy of this planet?
I will be upfront with readers and admit that I am a Christian. I believe in miracles and prayer. With that being said, we take pills that cure diseases, we fly around in machines and arrive on the other side of the planet within hours, we send men and women into space. While much of this sounds more like science fiction (genre-speaking), it has a huge element of fantasy.
Just because we are familiar with something, and thereby bored with it, doesn’t negate the fantastical element of that thing. To Frodo, Middle-Earth wasn’t a fantasy. It was a reality in which he was born.
Forgive me for saying this, but I believe if we can’t look at our world as fantastic in nature, we have lost our vision of the wonder of this world. We have lost it to the mundane, when it clearly is anything but.
While we shouldn’t think like a child, I still believe we should view some things as a child would. We should be able to see the fantasy in our world. We should be able to stand in awe of the creatures and landscapes that God has made.
Don’t think of writers of fantasy merely as people who are creating made-up, magical worlds. Think of them as anthropologists of worlds we have yet to discover.
I have so many deep thoughts that I would like to write out and expound upon and share with the whole internet world. Just yesterday, I sat down and managed to write out a few paragraphs about a topic that has been on my mind lately, but that’s as far as I got. A few paragraphs.
Who knows when I’ll finish that blog post.
All I can think of is that we have 10 days left. 10 school days. 10 days to finish everything for 4th grade and 2nd grade and hope that they got enough to last over the summer and make it to 5th grade and 3rd grade.
Like many of you, we are just hanging in there right now. Our bathroom needs to be deep cleaned. Our kitchen floor hasn’t had a real mopping in weeks (Maybe that doesn’t matter though, because enough items have been spilled on it in that time frame that all of the spot cleanings equal one whole one).
The lawn needs to be mowed. The laundry is backed up again. The garage is a wreck.
It’s that time of the year, and I’m grateful because it means that summer break is coming! When you homeschool, it’s not just your kids who are schooling, it’s you too. And I’m just as burnt out as they are.
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to hawk my book at a local book festival. The Thousand Islands Book Festival is organized by a committee of mostly school librarians and educators and was geared toward books for elementary and middle school kids. I was one of five local authors included in the book signing/selling portion of the event, and then there were 10 other authors (these were more well-known) that gave presentations throughout the day.
Since this was a brand new experience for me, I thought I’d do a little write up about it.
First of all, there was a party held on Friday night for the Authors and the committee members. There was food, wine, and a lot of nice people. Because I’m an introvert (and I like hanging out with my wife), I took Liz with me. The thought of going to a party where I know no one, and would have to mingle by myself, is unnecessarily stressful. This was good, because Liz and I were able to count this as a sort of real date, which, as you can imagine with the four girls, is a rare affair. We wore nice clothes, ate food without worrying about children, and had conversations with adults.
The next morning loomed bright and early. I wanted Liz to go with me, which meant that we would have to find a babysitter for at least the two youngest. Thankfully, my parents agreed to do this (as well as babysit the night before), but so that they wouldn’t be away from us all day, we decided to take everyone in the morning. This festival was geared toward kids (K-8), and we figured we would see how long the little ones would last and then my parents could come pick them up.
There was some mayhem in the morning. We had to wake up and leave early, and doing that on a Saturday always seems to make everyone feel excited and nervous. I set up my stuff on my half of the table in the gym and then we all took a tour of the elementary school where the festival was held and checked out the different rooms where the Author presentations would be.
Then, it all started. Liz got the girls a snack during the opening remarks since they were starting to go a little wild, and then she took them to a storytelling presentation by authors Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss. Katie ended up asking to buy one of their books Scared Witless. All of the girls really liked them, and then afterward, my parents came and whisked the little ones away. Katie and Annabelle ended up eating a lot of junk food, going to the playground, and attending two more presentations by authors Kate Messner and Joseph Bruchac.
What was I doing all this time? Well, mostly this:
Sitting at my little table, talking with people, answering questions, and selling a few books. Being a basically unknown author, it was amazing to see people’s interest in Scar of the Downers. It seemed that the large poster of my book cover attracted most of them my way. I even posed for photos with a few kids. The best moment for me was when a boy who was about 11 years old went to beg his mom to let him borrow some money to buy my book. He only had enough money for one book, and he had to come to the festival to see a specific author and buy his book. Well, when he discovered Scar of the Downers, he actually couldn’t decide which one to get. I took it as a great compliment that he felt that way. His mom loaned him the money so that he could get both, and I hope that he enjoys it and it was worth being in debt.
Overall, it was a great experience. I was grateful to be included in the group of local and established authors that were at the festival, and I was glad to meet and talk to the various people in the community who love books and want to support authors.
It’s been a while since I’ve written anything on my blog. During the last blog tour, I went in overdrive writing guest posts, which is great, but in doing so, I neglected my book for a bit. So, instead of writing posts for my own blog, I’ve been working on book two of my Downer series. I’ve also been writing music and the script for the musical I am experimenting with (we’ll see how that goes).
Now, I have another blog tour coming up at the end of June, but it won’t be as intensive as the last tour.
But I’ve been plugging away with book number two, which is (for the moment) titled Rise of the Branded.
And this Saturday, I will be at the Thousand Islands Book Festival in Cape Vincent, NY with a bunch of other authors.
So… what happened to our family in May?
Well, we had a Great Family Sickness for at least a week. There was Mother’s Day. I can’t really think of much else except that the month seemed difficult. We were discouraged by some things. The kids were really hard to deal with at times. My wife had a hard time at her job. Life seemed a little bleak.
But what this bleakness did for us is to make us see that we need to get back on track with some things that we had let grow stagnant, so now we’re trying to rectify that.
And, the month of May wasn’t all bad… some good things did happen. We previewed one of the songs from the new musical at our church talent show. The two year old is just full of funny little things that she’s started doing, and we’ve started doing fun summer stuff with the girls, like going to little local festivals, eating frozen yogurt, and exploring little vacation towns.
I’m just going to consider it a Sabbatical. So, starting next week I will try to remain vigilant and keep this updated at least two times a week.
Scott Keen is the author of three young adult fantasy novels, Scar of the Downers, Rise of the Branded, and War of the Downer King.