Books to Worlds, Worlds to Books 21-28


You might be asking yourselves, where did Kristen go?

            Okay, maybe that’s not what you’re asking. Maybe you forgot about me until you saw this latest blog. Maybe even then, you’re like—that chick types too much.

            Well, this chick does type too much. Her wrists are starting to send her brain nasty notes and her ergonomic keyboard has stopped allowing her to use the space bar. Youcanseewhythiswouldbeproblematic.

            Regardless of what you think of me, here I am now. And wowza, what a week it has been. Inside my mind. Because outside my mind, I’ve spent the last seven days glowering at my laptop screen like it just offended my ancestors and all the people they ever dined with.

            That doesn’t seem like much of a curse. I curse your acquaintances with whom you have at least once broken bread! Like, okay, but I can still watch Netflix, right?

            We’re wandering. Well, we’re not wandering. I’m wandering. And for some reason that you might want to take up with your psychiatrist, you’re wandering with me.

            Ladies and gentlemen, herein lies the point: I’m busy. Super busy. Super, I’m-losing-my-mind-and-need-a-bottle-of-wine busy. I took a couple of nights off from writing last week and at this point in the game, the end result is that I have zero hours of freedom left. I set my deadline for the last day in January (80,000 words, in case you haven’t been listening to previous rants) and by the old gods and the new, that’s what I’m going to do.

            So here’s to insanity. Because, honestly, how much farther down the rabbit hole could it possibly be?


If you’re still reading, you’re probably my mom.

            And you’re probably concerned that your daughter has driven herself crazy because she spent too much time by herself. For the past…let’s say, 26 years.

            Goodness, am I really that old? And yes, mom, I know that doesn’t sound very old. But let me have my moment. It’s older than I remember being an hour ago.

            Isn’t aging strange? Like you don’t notice until you notice, and then once you notice you’re already halfway gone. I have a new gray hair every day. It’s a stripe over my right eye. I hope that it fills in and I can say that an ice queen zapped me, but with my present luck, it will be like someone shredded dental floss over my scalp.

            Speaking of dental floss, I like it. I don’t carry it with me (I’m not that far gone), but I do appreciate it any time I notice it still exists. Eating steak or corn on the cob without dental floss would be a special kind of hell for me. Of course, that hell is my own conjuring and I brewed these demons up from long hours inventing worlds and characters and relationships, but still. Hell is hell.

            Dante knows what I’m talking about.

            Speaking of our own personal hells, how about those deadlines? I could be sipping a pina colada on a beach and all that my brain would have to do is, hey, you remember that thing you were supposed to…and I’d be off the beach bolting for the nearest laptop before you could say—but why is the rum always gone?

            So there. That’s all I’ve got. It’s Tuesday, after all. What more do you need?


Wednesday makes us believe that it’s a good day.

            It’s the top of the week. When I get to 1PM on a Tuesday, I’m just halfway through another workday. But when I get to 1PM on a Wednesday, we’re halfway home y’all. Wednesday has a catch phrase (HUMP DAY!) and Wednesday usually has some kind of dinner special for the resident early birds. Wednesday would have us believe it’s the coal to Friday’s diamond.

            Wednesday is also a lying sack of shit, because it sucks.

            What’s good about a day that’s only halfway to where you want to be? That’s like driving from Northern Minnesota to Southern Missouri and being super excited about Iowa. Trust me, halfway isn’t exciting.

            At least Monday has the decency to own up to being a jackass. No one likes Monday. But Wednesday is the kid who thinks he’s the coolest thing since peanut butter and proceeds to be an utter and complete douche.

            And don’t even get me started on Tuesday. The thing had the audacity to hoard the tacos of the world in a vain attempt to make us like it. It’s the Avenger’s Hawkeye of weekdays. No one cares, Tuesday. Stop filling up space. Go be useless somewhere else.

            Thursday is fine. It owns those ladies’ nights. Good things happen on Thursday.

            And Friday is the cool kid who chills there knowing he’s cool, but is too cool to let on that he knows. And we all know what Saturday (your cool aunt) and Sunday (your kindly but less cool aunt) are.


Now that I have thoroughly reprimanded Wednesday, what shall we talk about next?

            How about my book?

            Original, I know, for an author to mull over her life’s work. But indulge me.

            Olympus Mons is an ancient volcano on Mars. The second book in my Firebird Chronicles is called Olympus. This is not a coincidence.

            The more well-known Mount Olympus is featured heavily in Greek mythology. This is also not a coincidence.

            My book Olympus takes a deeper look at Mars, at the animals that have adapted to it, at the ways the three Overlords interact, and at how my characters survive in what is quickly becoming a hostile environment. And I’m not just talking about war, although that certainly is on the horizon. Mars was terraformed when Earthlings discovered devices already in place that gave them the ability to do it. Essentially, all we had to do was turn it on.

            Where did the devices come from? Who are the BioMages? Why do Earth creatures adapt to terraformed Mars?

            These are the most frequent questions my readers bring to me (except for the inevitable, did you know you had a typo on pg 77?). And they’re good questions. Clever questions. Questions that rose from the answers that turned into a thirteen book series I’ve named the Firebird Chronicles.

            Olympus answers questions. Olympus makes questions. I really hope Olympus is everything I think it is, because right now, I think it’s awesome.


While I’m on the subject of books, I just read a really good one.

            Now I’ve never read the Odyssey. Granted, it’s been sitting on my ‘to read’ shelf on Goodreads since I got a Goodreads, and it’s been on that same physical shelf since I was old enough to have one (13, in case you were wondering). But I’ve never read it. I was always more of a Canterbury Tales girl.

            But recently I read Madeline Miller’s brilliant Circe, and I’m more than inspired—I’m in awe.

            She was a woman, a sister, a mother, a witch. She was brave and resilient, natural and strong. Circe is an inspiration, and Miller’s twist on an ancient story is all I need to want to go outside and start digging for herbs. AKA, I want to be a witch.

            It’s amazing, the effect a good book has on someone’s life. I listened to Circe on audible (a great decision, because the narrator is fantastic), so for two days, my dishes, my cleaning, even working on my taxes…all of these simple, everyday acts were surrounded by beauty, gods and magic.

            Good books change lives. I’ve believed that since I picked up Harry Potter and read my first book-for-fun. I was 13. And by the time I’d finished it, I knew I wanted to be an author.

            I’m happiest when I read, and it’s amazing how often I forget that. I can tell that my creativity drops when I don’t have a good book near at hand, I can feel my spirits sink.

            And if there’s one moral to this story, it’s that if something makes you happy, don’t ever take it for granted.


Tonight, I saw William Elliot Whitmore.

            He’s a folksy artist with a sexy voice, a drum and a mandolin. My oldest friend lives in Duluth (I’ve known him since I was three days old—let’s call him Jack, since I haven’t asked him if I could put him in a blog and I’m too lazy to text) and he saw that Whitmore would be playing at a little bar on Superior Street.

            I responded with a link to his ticket, because I bought them the next minute.

            I love music. My favorite band…well, it changes along with my favorite color (currently blue). My favorite genre? To be fair, that changes too. I don’t have very many favorite anythings. I don’t like to limit myself to something that I believe to be better than everything else—what if there’s something else that could be my favorite? What then?

            That said, for a while in college, Whitmore was my favorite musician. I liked his sound, loved his love of small towns and wood fires, and was altogether pleased that I was the one out of my friend group who had discovered him.

            So I went to Duluth. Jack and I drank beer all day, played chess (at which I was destroyed—since when is Jack good at chess??), listened to music and did our best not to freeze to death. It was cold in Duluth. Cold might be an understatement. It was freakishly awful when we crossed that bridge from Canal Park to Superior Street and if it hadn’t been for the equally freakish but surprisingly good chili beer I’d had earlier, I don’t know if I’d have made it.

            So, Saturday was a fun day. I also had my author portrait taken, thankfully at the beginning of the evening. Toward the end, I’m not even sure if I’m the one in my pictures.


It was 40 below zero when I drove home Sunday.

            That’s without windchill, folks. It was cold. It was more than cold, it was damn cold. It was so cold, whenever I went over a bridge, the fog from the rivers was so thick, I couldn’t see past the hood of my car. Smoke from houses and exhaust from bigger trucks rose about twenty feet in the air before plateauing in strange, hovering discs. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that before.

            The sunrise was golden, the world was alien, and I took my drive very slowly. I saw wolves padding across the lake when I made it home, following a deer trail, and even though I was fighting a beer hangover, it was one of the more beautiful days of my life. It’s something that you can only experience when it’s damn cold, and even though it means my car won’t start or I have to basically suit up for outer space if I’m going outside, it’s almost worth it. I’d say completely worth it, but then I think about laying in my hammock on a summer afternoon and wholeheartedly know it’s not.

            I’ve seen ten Minnesota winters now. As a kid from southern Missouri, it took a bit of adjusting. I worked at a winter apparel store for a while when I first moved up here and I quickly learned that there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. But as I watch the wind whip by my window, watch the subzero temps continue to drop on my porch,  I can’t help but feel like I might have been wrong. At times, there might be such a thing as bad weather.

            And this might be one of those times.

            Still, it’s a unique experience and I’m a strong independent woman. I’ll carry my firewood in. I’ll wrap my little dog in eight layers of fleece. And at night, I’ll drink tequila.


Another week, gone.

            This Monday-y Monday marks the beginning of the end. Because by Thursday night, I hope to have the first draft of Olympus completed. Done. Finished.

            Holy hells, where has the time gone?

            I’ve written nine books in my lifetime, including Olympus. My first was the Staff of Zeldora, which quickly turned into three books, which then turned into a play (The Silver Moon, The Golden Sun, and the Shining Star)—though, I’m not counting the plays, just the original book. I was 13, and I had it all prepped and ready to go off to Brian Jacques (who I was pretty sure would publish it for me, since that was obviously how the world worked). For those of you who don’t know, Brian Jacques was a children’s/YA author who lived in Liverpool. He was my idol.

            I don’t think I ever sent Mr. Jacques my book, though I did save the self-addressed envelope I was going to include with it. I wrote something called Perception Law later, about a fantasy world that combined Native American and Medieval cultures, and then The Amaranthine Rose—which was during my Twilight phase and we’re just going to go ahead and not talk about that.

            Then there were my Light Warriors. I had a first edition (which I wrote immediately after the Staff of Zeldora and stuffed into a five-star notebook), a second edition (I was fifteen and pretty sure this was my first “publishable” book), and a third edition. And yes, I’m counting each of those, because they’re all over 100,000 words. I also wrote a backstory for a character that turned into another book.

             The same thing is true for all of them: finishing a book is one of the best feelings in the world. I stare at that last word. I breathe. And for a brief moment, I am fulfilled.



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