“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”
Dalai Lama XIV
I have posted before about favorite books. I will come back to that idea again in the not too distant future, but I was thinking about movies, because I am going to teach a hybrid online/traditional in-class course on Literature and Film at Muhlenberg College for The Wescoe School (the adult program) this summer. This will be an early question I will ask my students, so it is only fair that I think about it.
My answer would be the same as if this question were for books: The Lord of the Rings by director Peter Jackson (all 3 movies considered to be one–the same as with the books.) I think this adaptation is one of the best adaptations of a book to movie that has ever been accomplished. I love the depth of the story, the issues raised of political power and corruption, war and peace, good and evil, life and death, love and hatred, industrialization and the decimation of the natural world, heroes, both large and small, and the connection of all people. I recommend this filmic adaptation to all. Please also read the books!
Garrett’s Bones by K. D. Dowdall is a book that will satisfy readers from the young to the, may I say, more experienced and older. Dowdall combines suspense, intrigue, excellent character development, themes of the forest and spirits, along with a well-paced and well-developed plot into a book that resonates with power and beauty.
This novel is both a coming-of-age Bildungsroman and an exploration of themes of good against evil. The main characters, Garrett and Anna, are young and have a complex relationship throughout the book. It is one of the strengths of the novel that Dowdall creates multi-dimensional characters whose hopes and dreams, fears and anxieties, strengths and weaknesses permeate the tale.
Additionally, this book speaks of the supernatural as well as history, love as well as hatred, and life as well as death. I was moved when I read it, and I consider it to be an extraordinary novel. I give it a 5 star, full-hearted, unreserved recommendation! This is a book to be put on everyone’s to-read list!
Garrett’s Bones by K.D. Dowdall will engage your imagination!
Please visit Karen’s site! https://karendowdall.com/author/kddowdall/
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:
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.
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.
The Cogsmith’s Daughter (Desertera #1) – http://books2read.com/the-cogsmiths-daughter
The Courtesan’s Avenger (Desertera #2) – http://books2read.com/the-courtesans-avenger
Website – http://www.katemcolby.com
Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/katemcolby
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/authorkatemcolby
Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/katemcolby
Sarah Franklin, Roosevelt’s deceased and beloved wife, in my horror novel Maledicus: Investigative Paranormal Society Book I was an excellent and accomplished cook. In some ways, besides being a horror novel, this is also a love story about a man who so loved his wife that even years after her death, he has not stopped grieving for her or loving her. He still wears their wedding band, and he still misses her every day when he wakes up in an empty bed.
Sarah enjoyed cooking for him and making dishes that he would never have attempted himself. One of his favorites was her Quiche Lorraine. This is Sarah’s version of a traditional dish. Her recipe follows:
*Use either a premade 9 inch pastry dough, or make it from scratch.
Ingredients for crust:
– 1 cup all-purpose flour
– 1/3 cup shortening
– pinch of salt
– 3 tablespoons cold water
Directions for crust:
Mix salt and flour in a bowl. Add the shortening, using a pastry blender, until the pieces are the size of small peas. Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and toss with a fork until all flour is moistened
Shape the flour into a single ball. Then, form it into a flattened round on lightly floured surface. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate about 45 minutes or until the dough is firm and cold but still malleable.
Preheat oven to 425° F. With floured rolling pin, roll the pastry into a round form 2 inches larger than upside-down 9-inch quiche dish or glass pie plate. Fold the pastry into fourths; place into dish. Press against bottom and side.
Line the pastry with a double thickness of foil. Press the foil gently onto the side and bottom of the pastry. Let the foil extend over edge of pie dish. Bake for 10 minutes. Carefully remove foil, and bake 2 to 4 minutes longer or until pastry just begins to brown and has become set. If the crust bubbles, gently push bubbles down with back of spoon.
After the piecrust has been made,
Ingredients for the Quiche:
– 12 slices of bacon, fried crispy and crumbled
– 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
– 1/3 cup chopped scallions
– 1 and 3/4 cups light cream
– ¼ teaspoon cayenne or crushed red pepper
– ½ teaspoon salt
– ½ teaspoon sugar
– 4 eggs
– Preheat oven to 425°
– Whisk eggs slightly, then add remaining ingredients, and whisk a bit more.
– pour mixture into pie pan
– bake for 15 minutes at 425°
– reduce oven heat to 300°
– bake additional 30 minutes
– the Quiche is ready when a butter knife is inserted into the center and comes out clean
– let the Quiche stand for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
(photos courtesy of Liz French)
The world of letters, of books, of reading, and of writing lost another important figure on Friday 3/4/16. Best known for his books The Prince of Tides and The Great Santini, Conroy was a major figure in American literature. Conroy lived in South Carolina, and his books frequently featured a southern setting, but they often dealt with universal themes: family and its difficulties and conflicts, war, oppression, exploitation, love, and violence.
His works also include: The Lords of Discipline, Beach Music, My Reading Life, and South of Broad. Several of his writing were made into successful movies.
Conroy said, “Writing is more about imagination than anything else. I fell in love with words. I fell in love with storytelling.”
Rest In Peace Pat Conroy
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