Quotations on Books

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“Books are the perfect entertainment: no commercials, no batteries, hours of enjoyment for each dollar spent. What I wonder is why everybody doesn’t carry a book around for those inevitable dead spots in life.”

                                                                          Stephen King

 

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“I cannot live without books.”

                                                                           Thomas Jefferson

 

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“Books are the mirrors of the soul.”

                                                                           Virginia Woolf

 

The Courtesan’s Avenger by Kate M. Colby: Themes in a Series

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I would like to welcome author Kate M. Colby to my blog.  In this post, she discusses the issue of themes in a series of novels. Kate is an excellent writer, one I am proud to know. I respect her abilities and writing, and I have used her previous novel The Cogsmith’s Daughter (Desertera #1) in two of my college English literature classes.  So, welcome Kate please as she discusses Themes in a Series:

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 What makes a good book series? Most readers would say a captivating world, strong characters, and an overarching mission or journey. I absolutely agree … but I think there’s something missing there. Theme.

While books can (and should) offer escape and entertainment, they have the ability to do so much more than that. Fiction allows authors the opportunity to explore topics that matter to them on neutral ground, to expose and evaluate unsavory aspects of society, to celebrate all that makes up this wonderful and crazy human experience. As someone who blended sociology and English in university, this is exactly what I try to do in my fiction.

The world of my Desertera series is a steampunk wasteland. It’s about as far from reality as I could run. But the themes within the world really hit home with me, and have with several of my readers, too. My first novel, The Cogsmith’s Daughter, is a revenge tale. When Aya, my protagonist, was a young girl, the king had her father executed for treason. Therefore, at first opportunity, Aya joins a plot to avenge her father’s death and trap the king into a crime, thus bringing about his execution.

If I’ve done my job as a writer, the readers should be on Aya’s side. They should seethe with anger and root for her to succeed in orchestrating the king’s execution. They should identify with Aya’s quest for self-redemption, love, and the reclaiming of her sexuality. They should be appalled at the social injustices in the world, the stratification of class and wealth, and the hypocritical palace politics – all things that can be found in reality.

When I set out to write the sequel, The Courtesan’s Avenger, I wanted to tackle a lot of these same themes. Class struggle remains a central issue, along with love and sexuality, friendship, and self-discovery. However, I knew I had a responsibility to address the other side of revenge: justice.

I had to face the ugly truth of the morality I had exalted. As much as I respect Aya and her mission, revenge isn’t healthy. Even if it is “justified,” it can turn a good person evil, blind them to their own wrongdoings, and pose troubling moral questions for a society. After all, if Aya can (essentially) murder and (definitely) commit crimes to avenge her father, what’s to stop the other citizens from doing the same to address their own grievances?

Enter Dellwyn and The Courtesan’s Avenger. When one of Dellwyn’s fellow courtesans is murdered, she doesn’t desire revenge or any sort of payback. She wants justice. Her whole goal in finding the killer is to submit them to the authorities and the judgment of law. She doesn’t take justice into her own hands, doesn’t commit any crimes, and even condemns Aya’s actions from the first novel. Dellwyn has seen how Aya’s quest for revenge created rifts in their world, and she refuses to do the same.

This is all a longwinded way of saying that theme, just as much as characters and setting and plot, is a central part of writing a book series. As an author, you have the opportunity to highlight the wrongs and praise the good you see in society. You can help readers gain empathy for the corrupt, question their sense of right and wrong, or just consider an issue they’d never thought about before.

Readers, you have the greatest blessing of all. You get to pick and choose what to take with you. Every book, no matter how thematically driven, leaves a piece of itself with us. Pride and Prejudice encourages us not to judge others too harshly and be open to love, The Girl on the Train reminds us to take responsibility for our actions, and The Picture of Dorian Gray condemns vanity, self-indulgence, and moral duplicity. At least, that’s what I get from those three – your interpretations could be entirely different! You can take the author’s message at face value, mine for deeper meaning, discover something the author didn’t know was there, or ignore it all completely. That’s the beauty of theme.

So, fellow writers, have the courage to experiment and make theme a central part of your series. It’s not just for stand-alone literary fiction novels. And, fellow readers, examine everything the author presents and take whatever it is you need. Every possible meaning lurks between those pages, and you can have whichever one you like.

Happy reading!

Author bio:

Kate M. Colby is an author of science fiction, fantasy, and nonfiction. Her first series, Desertera, consists of steampunk fantasy novels with themes of socio-economic disparity, self-empowerment, romance, and revenge. She lives in the United States with her husband and furry children.

 

Book links:

The Cogsmith’s Daughter (Desertera #1) – http://books2read.com/the-cogsmiths-daughter

The Courtesan’s Avenger (Desertera #2) – http://books2read.com/the-courtesans-avenger

Social links:

Website – http://www.katemcolby.com

Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/katemcolby

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/authorkatemcolby

Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/katemcolby    

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Blog tour for my upcoming novel.

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Hello to everyone. I am planning on doing a blog post tour in October for my horror novel Maledicus: Investigative Paranormal Society Book I.  I will be setting the release date for the book soon, but it will probably be somewhere in the area of October 20.

The blog tour will probably run 2-3 weeks. I admit I should have this schedule set, but I am running a bit behind on some of the planning.  But as an absent-minded professor, this fits me perfectly!

If you are interested in hosting a post on a particular day, or on any day from October 1 through October 20, please email me at frenchc1955@yahoo.com .  The subject is something we can discuss with some possibilities being discussions of how I wrote the book, interviews with questions you prefer or those I can write, interviews with the characters, or themes of the novel. I am certainly not limiting the subject matter; those are simply suggestions.

Here is a sneak peak at the tee-shirt for the book!

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Quotations on the Importance of Education

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“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

                                                                                 Nelson Mandela

 

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“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”

                                                                                  Socrates

 

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“Education is education. We should learn everything and then choose which path to follow. Education is neither Eastern nor Western, it is human.”

                                                                                Malala Yousafzai

Quotations on Hope

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“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.”

                                                                  John Lennon

 

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“Hold fast to dreams,

For if dreams die

Life is a broken-winged bird,

That cannot fly.”

                                                                   Langston Hughes

 

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“It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

                                                                    Anne Frank

What book are you reading now?

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Reading is both of one the greatest pleasures of life and one of the necessities for writers. It gives readers the chance to escape from the outside world and immerse themselves to a completely fictional place for a while, and it serves as a foundation upon which to learn and draw for writers.  To me, reading is one of the essential components of life. It is more than mere recreation; it is a central part of my being.

I do, however, read for pleasure as well as learning.  I count reading as one of the essential joys of life.

I am currently reading several books, but one that is probably the most well known is Stephen King’s End Of Watch, the completion of his detective/thriller trilogy that began with Mr. Mercedes and  then Finders Keepers. It is a brilliant piece of writing, and Mr. King delivers an extraordinary combination of the thriller and supernatural. I will not reveal any spoilers, but I do give it a top of the line recommendation.

My question to those who are reading this post: What book are you reading now or have recently read for pleasure?

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R.I.P. Elie Wiesel

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Elie Wiesel, the Nobel laureate, and author of Night, his memoir of being a prisoner in the Holocaust, died this weekend.  Mr. Wiesel, besides being an extraordinary writer, whose work brought the experience of the evil of the Holocaust to the forefront of many readers, was also one of the most powerful moral voices of our time.

I read Mr. Wiesel’s book Night as a teenager, and I was deeply struck by the power and the messages it contains.  I made a connection with the horror of the Holocaust and the hope of humanity through this text.  I will keep the discussion of my personal impact of this book short, because it is so deep and so complex that I could write forever on it.  But, it was another lesson that we are all connected and must remember this joint humanity–always.

Mr. Wiesel argued powerfully that it is not enough to simply not do evil, but that it is the moral responsibility of people to oppose it wherever it exists. He said, “Whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation, we must always take sides.” and “As long as one dissident is in prison, our freedom will not be true. As long as one child is hungry, our lives will be filled with anguish and shame. What all these victims need above all is to know that they are not alone; that we are not forgetting them, that when their voices are stifled we shall lend them ours, that while their freedom depends on ours, the quality of our freedom depends on theirs. (From his Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech.)

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President Obama, in speaking of him, said of Mr. Wiesel, “Elie Wiesel was one of the great moral voices of our time, and in many ways, the conscience of the world.”

We should honor his work and commitment to justice, and we should remember, especially in our turbulent times, often filled with hatred and bigotry, that we are morally compelled to oppose injustice and bigotry.

Rest In Peace, Elie Wiesel.  The world will miss you.