Sunday, September 24, 2017

Top Ten 10 Favorite Fantasy Books

Top Ten 10 Favorite Fantasy Books
from my misspent youth

Some of the books on this list are from when I first started devouring the genre in fourth grade, and some are from middle school and junior high. I was a fan of all things books: I loved the scholastic book fairs, our public library, I volunteered in the library during middle school and junior high, I joined every book club I could find. I read in the hallway, I read while I walked to class. I figured out how to tell when my parents were coming down the hall and if I had time to turn off the lights and hide my book before they got there based purely on the different creaks in the floor boards. I devoured everything I could get my grubby hands on. I didn’t just read fantasy books, but they were the ones that had the most significant impact on me. I don’t say all of this to brag, but to explain why I don’t really remember the plots or the characters. At this point in my life, I remember the feelings I had while reading them and little else. That shit was a long time ago, folks. Let’s get started on this list!

TEN
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
I read this book and the resulting books somewhere around elementary school. They made me feel warm and happy. I don’t think I understood fully what was going on, but I enjoyed the journey.

NINE
Dune (series) by Frank Herbert
Frank Herbert was my Tolkien. Dune was my first big-girl series. I think I was in fifth grade, but that part is a little hazy. I had read all my library books and was searching my dad’s bookshelves for something to tide me over until the next trip. I was almost immediately enchanted, but I definitely skipped over the boring political stuff, a bad habit that I continue to this day. I suspect it’s why I’m not a great role player- I just want to read the action and have zero interest in strategy. As my dwarven barbarian once screamed, “GO FOR THE EYES.”

EIGHT
Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey
This one was another find from my dad’s shelf, but I had to get some of the series from the library. These were the first books I read by Anne McCaffrey and I was so lost in the world: acid rain, dragons, music… it was utterly magical.

SEVEN
Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
Scholastic book fair find! This one I definitely started reading in fourth grade. Honestly, I won’t summarize because you have not been living under a rock, dear reader. This was my first fantasy series, pre-dating Dune. I loved Tumnus and had no idea it was a Christian allegory. Womp womp.

SIX
The Farthest Away Mountain by Lynne Reid Banks
Definitely ordered from Scholastic. I picked up this book because I recognized the authors name. Our English teacher in fourth grade was reading The Indian in the Cupboard and so I decided to try it. This book is stand alone. The protagonist is a spunky, willful girl who sets upon a journey to fulfill her dreams. It read like a fairy tale, but not in a Grimm style, fear-based allegory. 10 year old Kirstin was down with this story.

FIVE
The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams
I believe this was a book I read in high school. My bestie had loaned me Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in junior high and I really loved his style, then I came across this at the thrift book store. It was the first time I’d read anything like it. It was like he just threw everything in the air and then somehow it all made sense by the time it hit the ground. Tea-Time resonated with me more deeply than Hitchhiker’s, though. I suspect it was the brief moment we hear Susan talking about trying to land a note on her cello over her voicemail. I played the cello and judge any media containing my instrument based on how they treated it. For instance: James Bond rode a Stradivarius down snowy hills and let bad guys shoot holes in it and I never, ever forgave him. But Susan had a working relationship with her cello- she would never let somebody shoot a hole through it. I just knew.

FOUR
Vows and Honor series by Mercedes Lackey
I read any Mercedes Lackey I could get my hands on- I called them my popcorn books because I couldn’t stop with them. This series was one of my favorites. Two badass women coming together in a journey for truth and justice? Yes, please. There were also some pretty queer undertones to these books, we’re talking Xena & Gabrielle vibes- the kind where you’re like “LADIES JUST MAKE OUT ALREADY” but everybody continues to pretend they’re just really, really good friends.

THREE
The Discworld Series by Terry Pratchett
I mean, Terry Pratchett knows how to write some hilarious fantasy novels. I loved these books because I could laugh but I was still deeply invested in the characters. They were well developed and I just always felt really good after reading them. Feel good magic and humor for everybody!

TWO
Dealing with Dragons (series) by Patricia C. Wrede
Oh my god, I loved this series so much. This protagonist was a fierce princess who refused to live a life prescribed for a princess. She fought for her new life with intelligence, strength, will, and a fabulous cherry jubilee recipe. What is a cherry jubilee? I don’t know, but Wrede made it sound delicious and empowered. Grown up Kirstin just googled it and agrees with young Kirstin’s assessment. Perhaps I should make it sometime for research. Yes, research.

ONE
The Blue Sword and The Hero’s Crown by Robin McKinley

I wore the binding out on these books. I have read them a million times. I don’t even have words to describe how much I loved these books as a tween then teen. They are set in the same fantasy world but with different protagonists, both female. These books are both about intrepid outcasts who are alienated by society and find or create space to flourish and also save their kingdoms. So, you know, just the kind of thing I would love. Are you picking up on the pattern of books I loved? Because I suspect there is one there… wink wink.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Why do I love cats so much?

Why do I love cats so much?
by K. Steitz

A flash fiction piece
dedicated to Kelly Hawk

I practiced sitting in different parts of Emily's two story Italianate on East Walnut Street. Light streamed into the windows, perfect for slow, joint-popping stretches and lazy nods. I studied rejuvenating repose by twisting myself into many different shapes, pulling tight into a full moon, or stretching from tip-to-tip like a jagged line punctuated by a peaceful sigh. Honestly, they all felt magnificent.

Most rooms had a lovely amount of light to bathe beneath, but my favorite place to curl up was in Emily's breakfast nook. I do believe she found my antics rather charming. She went out of her way to brush her fingers across my shoulders every time she passed by me that morning. It was one of the days she didn't disappear, but lounged with me between chores, book in one hand, chipped cup of earl gray in the other. These are my favorite mornings.

There was a picture window in the breakfast nook that looked out upon her well-maintained garden. The cushion itself is a delight, soft blue cotton; the window provides hours of entertainment. I was particularly interested in the bird life. She had a wide and unique variety of birds that visited her intricately molded cast-iron bird feeder. I believe I even saw a smug gentleman with a yellow chin and long beak poking about. Now those are some feathers I'd really love to sink my teeth into. Perhaps in another life.






Do you want a piece of flash fiction dedicated to you? Ask me any question in the comments of my blog and I will answer in the form of flash fiction. Emphasis on the fiction. Wink wink.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Abbey Riley talks fried chicken and desire...

Gone with the Wings:
Original Recipe for Romance?
By Abbey Riley


I don't know if anyone has really ever bothered to review The Tender Wings of Desire: a Colonel Sanders Novella. I'm conceited enough to hope that I am the first. Oh man, this story. To begin with, since it is a novella, it's very brief. You can seriously read it in the space of probably an hour; maybe less if you don't stop to laugh and talk about it with your friends. It centers on the life of Lady Madeline, an 18 year-old English member of the landed gentry who's never known love. It might even be said that lady Madeline doesn't believe in love, and certainly not love at first sight. Her younger sister Victoria is anxious to be wed to basically just anybody but as the eldest, it is Madeline's duty to marry first. Enter Duke Reginald: blond, handsome, rich, charming, kind; all the things, basically, but not giving Madeline the old tingle in the dingle, if you know what I mean.
(dingle noun “a deep, narrow cleft between hills; shady dell.”)
(You’re welcome.)
Tender Wings of Desire by [Sanders, Colonel]

At no point does the cover art match the story, nor does the story even really make sense. That’s cool; satire is fun. You read it because you realize this is really how romance novels are written. There’s a lot of set-up about how the female protagonist is unhappy or dissatisfied or a hot mess, then some dramatic change in her life thrusts this SO HANDSOME OMG LOOK AT HIS FACE SWOON man into her life and suddenly, through the magic of boning which turns out to be TRUE LOVE, everything is happy times forever!
So many questions this story leaves you pondering. Why did a Kentucky restaurant mogul become a sailor out of a small England port town? What time period are we in? How does Liam the kitchen boy intercept mail? Is he even literate? This novella doesn't give a shit about your questions! Colonel Sanders found love, okay?! Doesn't the pioneer of heart disease deserve love, too? He was just a simple man, standing in front of a simple woman, asking her to ignore the fact that after she told him all of her secrets and made an independent life for herself, he lied to her and now expects her to marry him, anyway. This is romance, people! True love conquers all, especially a woman's desire for agency!
All in all, I was really disappointed by the lack of fried chicken. Like, surprisingly so. I deeply anticipated some kink involving his famous string tie and a twenty-piece bucket of Original Recipe. Maybe out on some moors with a pony, once I realized this was set in England. For a romance novella, this was decidedly lacking in smut. I think a really weird sex scene could have taken this over the top from mildly comical to hilariously epic.
For laughs, you can download The Tender Wings of Desire on Amazon Kindle devices. If you have Kindle Unlimited, it's free. It's worth a peek for the cover alone, which is brutally 90s.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

IT CAME IN

I am finally the proud owner of Throne of Jade: book 2 in the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik. Suck on that universe!

POW.

I am contemplating making a Facebook profile for myself so I can post about blogs. This seems like a logical thing to do. I am having a difficult time taking myself seriously enough to do this... but it will probably end up happening! So, please look forward to that, my readers.

I actually am not even sure I believe that anybody reads my blog. Like, Blogger statistics say folks do, but like, I just don't believe it.

Ask me something. Anything. I will answer it in the form of flash fiction.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A small rant about series

Have you read Naomi Novik yet? She wrote a beautiful book called Uprooted. This book lead me to explore her Temeraire series. To be honest with you, I was hesitant, despite how much I adored Uprooted, I've reached a point in my life where I am just not into long series about straight white dudes, especially based in an alt colonizer history, but I tried because I figured I found a great new author and I should try her other books out. I was not disappointed.

When I finished the first book, I was thirsty for the next one. I went to three local book stores to find book 2. I went to Barnes & Noble. They all had 4, 5, 6. Even the library was missing 2 & 3. I spent months trying to find them on my own. Finally I broke down and ordered them off Amazon. After a few weeks of no-books, I checked tracking and realized I accidentally ordered them from a UK retailer. I took a deep breath and accepted the situation. They were coming... just from across the pond.

Finally, a package showed up on my door. I squealed and ripped it open to find... book 3. They shipped my books separately and they shipped the 3rd book in the series first.

I mean, what even????

It's fine. The universe doesn't want me to read delicious books. I understand. Everything is fine.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Guest what?

I did another guest blog over at Shores of Night. You should check it out, especially if you like comic book movies, Marvel, Logan, or all of the above.

What else am I working on? I have a couple of projects in the works, and a couple collaborations. Still working on Book 2 of the Prophecy series. Maybe starting a comic book podcast with the preeminent warlock, Abbey. Perhaps there will be a comic in there, too.

I am curious... what would you like to hear more about from me? I'd really like to add some content that sparks with people, so feel free to leave any opinions, requests, or questions in the comments.

Yours faithfully,
K. Steitz

Sunday, April 9, 2017

On this, a balmy spring day

When Melissa proposed to me, the final time (the time I accepted), we chose the date for May, because I hate heat and wanted to have a cool, gorgeous, flowery outdoor wedding. May 19th rolled around and it was positively simmering. I put on the most perfect wedding dress, sweat through my hairspray and curls, and married the love of my life. On our honey moon, I threw my back out dragging our canoe through a low river in Northern Arkansas. That year, we had a drought so intense that the state was tapping private wells and we were all sweaty and gross for a while. While this is a feeling that is not unfamiliar in Missouri, we generally get a fairly nice spring. It didn't matter- I was in love, sweaty, and happy.

7 years later, separated from Melissa, we have another truly hot spring. There's symmetry in that, perhaps. I took grumpy old Missy, an old black Terrier+Pomeranian mix, and Mr. Man, my middle-aged chihuahua for a hike around Bear Creek and we were all panting by the time we got back to the truck. The sadness comes and goes. There are still so many things that make me happy (comics, my puppies, my family, my best friend and non-nesting partner Abbey, writing, naps, roller skating, hiking, canoeing, bad puns, etc., etc.) but I feel like this is almost vindictive heat, or bookender heat. This is the end of the shelf. Seven years of stories are contained between these heat waves. This collection of stories is complete.

Today I celebrated faux Easter with my brother, his fiance, the kids, my Aunt, and my mother. We dressed up and went to breakfast. I wore the skirt I wore to my first wedding in Iowa because it is my favorite spring skirt- a pattern that looks like pastel fireworks or chrysanthemums, my pearls from our Missouri wedding made by my maid of honor, and a ring Mel bought me in Eureka Springs. I wore them because they are beautiful things that stay with me, even though we've reached the end of the bookshelf. I have more bookshelves. I will love other stories. I will find other rings that fit me. But I will miss the life we had together. I will miss the dreams we built together, the adventures we had. I will miss how she would follow me around the house with her guitar, playing Heart. I will miss our road trips. I will miss the softness of her kiss, the feeling of her breath against my neck. I will miss her goulash. I will miss how joyful she was when she found a box of Pączki. And that's okay, I guess. 

Time to write. I promise I won't break up my main characters just because I'm sad. I almost did, but I won't. 

In the land of practical writing notes 
  1. Our writing workshop has jumped back to life! This has been a source of joy and inspiration to me and I hope all the amazing folks who have recently joined us!
  2. My novel is coming along. Word to the wise: do not buy a stack of comics right before an intense writing period. It will delay your writing. 
  3. Facebook is not good for productivity- which I feel is a lesson I never learn.
  4. Oh, I'm going to write another guest post for Shores of Night! Woot!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Hard choices...

I CHOOSE

to finish the book. Poetry will come when it's right.

And yet, I have not made the time to write, as I promised myself I would.

There is still time, and no giving up. Stubborn is my name, persistent is my game.

Here is my list of things I have done instead of honoring my writing routine.                        

  1. Buy a bunch of new comics
  2. Sudden family visits that kick you out of your writing space and disrupt your schedule.
  3. Talking instead of writing at your write-in
  4. Reading a bunch of new comics
  5. Watching the release of season 2 of Bubblegum (so awesome)
  6. Sleeping (but I have been recovering from being sick)
  7. Taking day trips to fabulous places 
Must get my head in the game. Fun is for when I'm done. 

Plus, I'm about to get to an assassination attempt and some big reveals, and I finally got past the boring scene that made me want to jump off a cliff. Secret: I always skip diplomatic/strategic sessions in books until I get to fighting.

Dig in
Double down
Time to get gritty




Sunday, March 12, 2017

Sunday morning rambling...

fueled by coffee and copious amounts of allergy meds. Thank you, gods of Zyrtec, Mucinex, Nasopure, & Flonase. #humble


No decision on if I will do poetry or prose in April. I'm leaning towards Prose so I can just knock the rest of this book outta the water.


On the topic of poetry and life~
So, blog land, big things have happened in my life. I've moved in with my mother and aunt. The two gingers (Genghis Khan and Roy) and the chihuahua (Mr. Man aka Chicken Nugget) have moved with me. I'm sure I'll find some poetry to come at this, but for now, I've been focusing on just like... humaning. Meanwhile, in moving my books (to their glorious and gorgeous new bookshelves) I found my dearest book, Sweet Geometry by Pamela McClure. I don't think it's a mistake that Pam's poetry found me at this time in my life.

I just wanted to share some of her words. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Dilemma: writer style

Y'all know how I love challenges, right? Love them. Guess what's coming up in April? You know it, you love it, it's National Poetry Month! The challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to write a poem a day.

You know what else it is?

Camp NaNo.

What is a girl to do? WHAT IS A UNICORN TO DO?

Poetry

or Prose

POETRY OR PROSE

POETRY
OR
PROSE

WHAAAAAAAT SHOULD I DOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

#betweentwoworlds

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Little girls want to grow up to be...


  • intuitive forest witches
  • expert sword duelers
  • free mermaids
  • preeminent scholars
  • wandering tinkerers
  • strong blacksmiths
  • powerful diplomat
  • spiritual leader
  • ferocious pirates
  • first rate tree climbers
  • creek stompers
  • peaceful fishers
  • high priestesses
  • tenacious hunters
  • kind ostler
  • savvy merchant
  • fearless dragon rider
  • crafty court magicians
  • gallant troubadour 
...

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Blogging about purpose...

Hello ghost readers!

Check out this guest blog I wrote for Steve over at Shores of Night. I write about my favorite genre, Fantasy. Give Steve some love while you're there <3

Friday, February 3, 2017

In which our heroine is frustratingly honest about her life

And we find no laughter in her sorrow.

When we write fiction, how do we avoid writing our plots around our life? I am desperately fighting the urge to re-write my plot in a very final, disastrous way. Love of your life, fighting injustice together? Fuck it. She doesn't love you anymore. She's found another shinny thing and is done with your simple, boring, messy ways.

It's so hard to be a person right now, let alone write about my complicated, but desperately in-love heroines. This is one of the ways that poetry worked better for me.
Because I could just dig deep. Because the words were just me.

This prose shit is hard. Creating characters and stories outside of yourself is exciting, but it's so hard to make them their own creatures, to not accidentally slip into them.