Hard Fantasy vs Soft Fantasy for Children

Patrick Rothfuss profile

Patrick Rothfuss image was taken from this interview.

In Talks at Google with Patrick Rothfuss, he answers a question dear to my heart. I usually discuss it in relation to children’s theatre, but it holds. They’re smarter than you think.

Audience Question: How hard is it to make hard fantasy versus soft fantasy for children?

Rothfuss: There’s an unfortunate tendency among people in general to say, oh, I’ll just write a fantasy novel because you can just make stuff up. And that’s wrong, because that’s not – you can just do a bunch of stuff and magic will make it make sense. You can, but that’s not good writing, it’s not good storytelling, it’s not good craft.

In my opinion, similarly, people, sometimes, in the genre, are like, well, boy, I wish I could write YA because then kids don’t know what a plot hole is, they don’t care about consistent characterization, they’re not gonna call me on the million dragons ecology problem that I’ve created, this is not a sustainable eco-structure. But that, in my opinion, is a really egregious cop-out. Because in the same way that food that we feed our children should be actually held to a higher standard than the food you give to an adult, because an adult can say, blech, this is awful, or they can read the label and go, oh, this has terrible things in it and it’s going to make me sick and give me cancer. A kid can’t. 

And so you owe it to kids to actually put more work into this because it’s harder to write short. It’s harder to write simply [sic]. It’s harder to do a lot of these things, and it’s harder to write cohesive, coherent, internally coherent fantasy. And you shouldn’t go to YA thinking, oh, my, this will be way easier. I can just bang out 30,000 words and then go play World of Warcraft.


I do not approve.

I know that it’s hard, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try for it. That’s my philosophy.”

Cover Reveal: Dream Eater


This is how K. Bird Lincoln’s latest urban fantasy was described to me: “a half-Japanese college student discovers her mythological parentage.”


I learned more details on Lincoln’s author page*: “half-Japanese girl finds out she’s the daughter of mythological, dream-eating Baku, yearns for delicious artisan chocolate, meets a handsome stranger with a secret of his own, and fends off attacks by creepy community college professors and water dragons.”

Although I’m a fairy/folk tale/mythology nut, I don’t know much about Japanese mythology (thanks, Eurocentric education). When I looked up Baku, I learned that is the spirit who can eat people’s nightmares.

“A child having a nightmare in Japan will wake up and repeat three times, “Baku-san, come eat my dream.” Legends say that the baku will come into the child’s room and devour the bad dream, allowing the child to go back to sleep peacefully.”

My son is starting to have nightmares. Maybe calling on Baku-san will help him fight through them. We have to stay careful though, because if you call on Baku too much, s/he may gobble up your good dreams as well. What does that leave you with?

I’ve enjoyed quite a few stories published by World Weaver Press lately, including The Falling of the Moon, Covalent Bonds (a geek romance anthology that is making me rethink the romance genre), and He Sees You When You’re Sleeping (an anthology of Krampus stories). Once I finish Dream Eater, I’ll let you know how it fares for lovers of mythology/urban fantasy.

K. Bird Lincoln’s Japanese-inspired urban fantasy novel DREAM EATER will be available from World Weaver Press in early 2017. Here’s how to add it to your Goodreads to-read shelf.

*I love that Lincoln calls this “my online presence.”

^I got this from Wikipedia, who lists their sources as:

  1. M.Reese:”The Asian traditions and myths”.pg.60
  2. Jump up^ Hadland Davis F., “Myths and Legends of Japan” (London: G. G. Harrap, 1913)

The Vet and The Ring

Veterans Day was Friday, and I realized that I don’t have a lot of friends who are veterans*. Two of my cousins (one deployed now), my grandfather’s of course, one deceased Uncle and my Dad in the Navy, one dear friend who was in the reserves (but I remember the day very well when he got his “all clear”), and a friend’s husband (who is one of my favorite people to read on Facebook). I’m sure I know more who I can’t think of right now.

Then I saw my engagement ring. I never really thought about what kind of ring Dan would get me to propose; I honestly never considered we would get married two years after we met. We lived paycheck to paycheck in The Melody, an old apartment complex across from Warner Bros where they used to house their musicians.

I didn’t know that when we visited his family, he had asked his Mom for this ring.
This ring belonged to my mother in law’s mother, who gave it to her when she knew she was dying.
It was Dan’s grandmother’s ring from her first husband, who died in World War II soon after they were married.
They were very much in love, and Dan loved his grandmother very much. I never got to meet her, but he always said we would get along and drink many beers together.
Her photo is one of the only ones we have framed in our kitchen.
After we sang Happy Birthday to Dan on his 28th birthday, he turned around, got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. With a ring I didn’t know he’d gotten, with a sad story I hadn’t yet heard attached to it, with a stone perfectly suited to our tastes.
I feel honored to wear a symbol of love and sacrifice as a symbol of our love and life.

*I think a veteran technically served active duty, bit anyone willing to enlist is a vet to me.


YA Book Review: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

I’m happy to announce that I’m now reviewing books for Dwarf+Giant, A Blog of The Last Bookstore. My focus is on fairy tales, folk tales and mythology – classics and re-tellings. Follow my reading progress on Goodreads.

This review was originally published on October 14, 2016.

Dorothy Must Die isn’t so much a retelling of The Wizard of Oz as a continuation, an elaboration of Oz after Dorothy became a ruthless dictator and turned her companions into henchmen worthy of The Godfather. Amy is the protagonist, swept into a tornado after her alcoholic mother goes to a tornado drinking party and leaves her to fend for herself. Landing her trailer in Oz, she is assumed to be their saviour, her orders being simple: Dorothy Must Die.

I had a hard time getting into Amy, the protagonist. At first I thought it was because we had so little in common (trailer park vs upper middle class, alcoholic mother vs stable nuclear family); then I realized that I felt too close to her experiences being bullied at school. It hurt too much for me to bear with relating to her. In a lot of ways I wish I reacted to bullying more like Amy did.

Once we’re into the Oz part of the story, I flew through Amy’s journey. Struggling with who to believe and having a real stake in who is good vs who is evil is a pretty great hook. No icon of Oz is left standing here, and you get the feeling there is real danger. I didn’t read the summary to the second book, so to me, it was possible that Amy could have been killed before this book was done. That was a pretty great feeling to have as a reader, that anything was really possible and maybe this time, our heroine wouldn’t overcome her training and doubts.

I do wish there was a little more dimension to Dorothy, but I suppose that’s how the original villain (Wicked Witch of the West) is portrayed in the film…and maybe I’ll find the answer I seek in Paige’s prequels.

Cover Reveal- He Sees You When He’s Creepin’: Tales of Krampus anthology

If you’re anything like me, the slow resurgence of Krampus into mainstream holiday festivities makes you very happy. It makes sense, given our recent freedom to be skeptical and embrace the darker sides of history (often the actual reality versus the mythologies of history we are taught in school). When I grew up in a Catholic school setting, my only alternative to being good was a stocking full of coal. Perhaps they sensed that if I thought I’d get a visit from a half goat, half man, my curiosity would get the better of me.

I look forward to reading this new anthology when it’s out in November!

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Title: He Sees You When He’s Creepin’: Tales of Krampus

Anthologist: Kate Wolford

Publisher: World Weaver Press

Publication Date: November 22, 2016

Book Description:

Krampus is the cloven-hoofed, curly-horned, and long-tongued dark companion of St. Nick. Sometimes a hero, sometimes a villain, within these pages, he’s always more than just a sidekick. You’ll meet manifestations of Santa’s dark servant as he goes toe-to-toe with a bratty Cinderella, a guitar-slinging girl hero, a coffee shop-owning hipster, and sometimes even St. Nick himself. Whether you want a dash of horror or a hint of joy and redemption, these 12 new tales of Krampus will help you gear up for the most “wonderful” time of the year. 

Featuring original stories by Steven Grimm, Lissa Marie Redmond, Beth Mann, Anya J. Davis, E.J. Hagadorn, S.E. Foley, Brad P. Christy, Ross Baxter, Nancy Brewka-Clark, Tamsin Showbrook, E.M. Eastick, and Jude Tulli.


Webinar: Harvesting Leads using social media

Harvesting Leads

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APRIL 24 (11:30-1pm PST)
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More about Cindy


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More Webinars:

APRIL 17: Twitter & Instagram Tutorial

MAY 1: Pitching to Press with Diana Wyenn

MAY 8: Crowdfunding Prep with Madeline Rosenstein

Music That Saved my Sanity During my Son’s First Year of Life

I don’t often write here about being a parent, but I like sharing how different art forms enhanced the first years of our son’s life. And often saved me.

When it comes to lists of “Things You Definitely Will/Won’t Need” for a baby, I don’t think I ever read one about music. There are tons of articles about how music helps a baby’s developing brain, but very little guidance on what specific music can teach your child about life. I don’t mean deep-seated meaning of life songs, I’m talking about a way to connect what you’re doing with why you’re doing it. You know, for that little human being who knows absolutely zero about the world and has to catch up fast.

Thus I give you, in roughly chronological order, the albums that saved us from multiple meltdowns and helped our child through the many mysteries and transitions of his first year.

  1. Baby in Tune: Good Morning My Love

This is the album that started it all. When my son was about two months old, I went to a class called “Bonding with your Baby.” To be honest, the deal-breaker for me was that we got a free CD along with the $25 class fee. Vered was a visiting musician from New York and although her presentation was a little awkward, her songs continue to rule our daily routines. We always used to sing “Good Morning my Love” before getting out of bed; “Bathtime” quickly became a staple; “Sleep My Baby” was a magic elixir during those hard first nights, and continues to be one of his favorite Get-the-f*ck-to-sleep tunes. I even bought my nephew the album and he’ll play it to self soothe during a meltdown.

2. O Baby Mine: Sing a Song of Shakespeare

You don’t need to know Shakespeare at all to enjoy these songs. They range from stories about The Bard himself (“Shakespeare Said it First”) to summaries of plays (“Do You Think You Had a Twin?”). The title song (“O Baby Mine”) is a lullaby sung by both deep and high voice, so either parent can easily take it. “There Are Bees” makes for a beautiful celebration of enjoying life and getting into the outside world around us. Lately I’ll sing it when we go on our nature walks to set the mood.

3. They Might Be Giants: Here Comes Science

It’s likely that you’ve at least heard “Istanbul not Constantinople,” made famous by the video on Tiny Toons. Here Comes Science makes hard concepts easily digestible for both parents and kids. I could never remember the order of the planets to save my life. That is, until I heard the song “How Many Planets” from this album. My absolute favorite line has to be from “Science is Real” though:

I like the stories

About angels, unicorns and elves….

But when I’m seeking knowledge

Either simple or abstract

The facts are with science

Electric cars, CAD (Computer Assisted Design), testing a hypothesis and paleontology are just some of the topics they cover. We’ve tied these songs to trips to science museums, planet books, and I even sang “The Bloodmobile” at his first year appointment when blood had to be drawn for the first time. It definitely calmed him down and gave me a really specific way to describe to him why this had to happen. Even if he didn’t comprehend the connection between the lyrics and the blood technician’s actions, he heard a familiar melody and trusted it. I remember him releasing a lot of tension and relaxing against me once I sang that song.

4. Lori Henriques: How Great Can This Day Be & The World is a Curious Place to Live

Lyrics range from upbeat (“How great can this day be/I’m alive and I am free”) to hilarious/useful (“Chew chew chew chew your food/You’ve got to chew chew chew with attitude”) to sublimely sad (“Dinosaur…you used to be here but you’re not anymore”) and also educational. Our Good Morning playlist begins with “How Great Can This Day Be” and I am not exaggerating when I say that it helped me survive some very difficult months in my first year of mothering.

Individual Songs also play their roles. These two together work wonders:

“It’s Time to Say Goodbye” is apparently a staple for children’s music classes. I heard it once and started using it to signal that it’s time to go, and my son’s transitions improved significantly. To this day, If he cries about leaving a place he loved, I just sing this and he calms down. I stopped saying “It’s time to go” and lead with “It’s time to say goodbye,” then begin the song. Now he even takes the initiative to put down his toy, raise his arms for me to hold him and wave goodbye as we exit.

Once that song is over, I go into “If I Had the Wings of an Eagle” by Ziggy Marley, which is pretty soothing and also about flying away to be at peace. (Only while researching it for this post did I learn it comes from a psalm and he replaced “dove” with “eagle”). It didn’t take long for our son to start spreading his wings to fly as we walked to the car. Belting him into his seat got a lot easier once this became a regular part of our routine.

The world is pretty scary for a new person, especially if everyone else understands the rules and you don’t. I like to give him clues and know what to expect by essentially — and consistently — singing him through life.