Guest Blog by Natasha Lane

When Natasha and I spoke about her doing a guest blog entry on my blog I was very excited to have her voice speak through this conduit. She’s always been energetic and thoughtful about her approach to writing in the year I have known her. She has a video series on Youtube as well as your usual social media outlets. I suggest you follow her because she is bursting with ideas, and enthusiasm, which can be quite contagious.

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Why the Literary World Needs Fantasy

By Natasha Lane

It’s no secret that when it comes to writing being considered literature, fantasy gets a swift kick in the head. Often so far stretched from reality, many snobs out there don’t consider any fantasy novel worthy of being called literature. “Lord of the Rings” is one of the most renowned book series in the world, some would even say it set the foundation for epic fantasy adventure, yet there are still those who would never equate it to works like “Pride & Prejudice” and Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.”

Well, I’m here to tell you that’s a bunch of bologna. Like a ton of bologna with mustard. No, fantasy isn’t going to spout prose about the war of eighteen-whatever or directly discuss the human condition. It serves more of an elusive purpose than that and it’s complex in its own way which is why I’m here.

Here are a few reasons the literary world and readers need fantasy.

  • Fantasy Makes Challenges In Reality Seem Easier to Deal With

Reading, like writing, can be a form of therapy. When your world is “crumbling” around you or you feel like you’re being pulled in a million directions, it’s always nice to dive into a good fantasy read. The reason behind this is very simple. Other people’s problems distract us from our own.

Look at it this way. When a main character is being threatened by an army of vampires and her family is being held hostage by goblins, your issues seem a little easier to deal with. A great example is the “Hunger Games.” Not only does Katniss have to fill the place of her deceased father but she has to help her mentally ill mother, volunteer in the games to save her sister, watch her friends die around her, and take down a corrupt and cruel government while leading a rebellion. You know, the usual.

  • Distances Real World Problems

Didn’t I tell you that fantasy is complex? That’s why while the genre is great for helping us minimize our problems and confront them; it can also do the reverse. When the real world conflicts seem to be too much, we can always hide in the pages of a fantasy novel until they become less of a reality.

A great example is the political tension in our country. Whether you’re liberal or conservative, democrat or republican, we’re all constantly being bombarded with news, usually not very happy news (riots, fighting, racism, sexism, etc). We hear it directly from news channels, on our social media, from friends, from family members, and any potential source really. This constant negativity, this constant drowning is a lot to bear. With that said, why should anyone judge us for picking up the Harry Potter novels for a re-read if reading them helps us distance ourselves from the war, anger, hate, and worst in this world?

  • Constant Role Models

Another reason the literary world and readers need fantasy is because it provides role models for us to look up to. Not everyone is born with parental figures in their life and usually, these people (myself included) turn to others to guide them. It’s not uncommon for a kid with no mom or dad to look to their uncles, aunts, or maybe even teachers to fill that gap.

However, like any human, these people are flawed. One moment, they’re someone to be admired and the next we may not be sure why we ever looked up to them in the first place.

Humans are complicated, so, we’re always changing. This change can come in many forms including flip-flopping on political or social issues. Characters can be complex and toe the line of good vs evil, as well, but compared to people characters are more consistent. Less flip-flopping.

A great example is Noon from the “Noon Onyx” series by Jill Archer. Throughout the series, Noon goes through many changes and often she has to pick between the lesser of two evils. Still, she never does a complete 180 on her readers. Can she sometimes be unpredictable? I’d say yes.

Does she straight up lie to our faces? I’d say no.

  • People Learn Differently

Fantasy, like any genre, has a moral or lesson that can be learned from reading it. The difference between fantasy and other genres, especially the non-fiction, is that the lesson to be learned isn’t obvious. Sometimes it’s open to interpretation but this is what makes fantasy so awesome.

Each person learns differently whether the subject is academic or more like a fact-of-life lesson. For some people, being told directly playing with fire will burn you isn’t enough. They need the lesson to be disguised as an arrogant hero who goes to confront an infamous dragon.

Then, they get the point.

Learning is not always as simple as reciting history and or watching it unfold in front of you in order to form an opinion. Some people need to see it from a more metaphorical view in order to understand it. A perfect example is “Game of Thrones” which is heavily based on the English 15th century War of the Roses. Dressed up medieval history lesson anyone?

  • Ultimate Escapism

Okay, so, this one isn’t very original but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. We touched on this before but no literary genre offers escapism like fantasy (except maybe scifi). Fantasy is often so far from reality there’s no better way to leave the real world behind. And, at least when we fantasy readers decide to take a break from this often crappy world, we do it with a sword in one hand, a magic wand in the other, and tons of imagination.

If you’re looking for some other reason why fantasy is so awesome, check out this article on “The Guardian” titled “The Real Purpose of Fantasy.”

Bio:

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Natasha’s a friend of most things caffeinated, a lover of books (particularly fantasy if you hadn’t guessed), and a writer to her core. Her first fantasy novel “The Pariah Child & the Ever-Giving Stone” is set to come out this spring. You can keep up with her on the social media links below.

Website: www.natashalanewrites.com

Facebook: Natasha Lane Writes

Twitter: @natasha_lane1

Instagram: Natasha Lane Writes

Google +: Natasha Lane

Tumblr: Natasha Lane Writes

 

Supernatural Summer Reading 2017

Hello mortals! If you’re in Maryland and like vampire and werewolf stories, you will definitely want to come to Scarborough Fair Bed & Breakfast on July 22nd to enjoy short readings and follow-up discussions with authors H.L. Brooks (that’s me!) and Dea Schofield. We will be reading some short excerpts from our latest books. There will also be some light refreshments and a door prize for one lucky winner. If you are a book blogger, vlogger, or bookstagrammer, send me a note if you can come by and we will hook you up with a swag bag.

TIME:
Saturday, July 22nd, 2017
4pm-5:30pm

PLACE:
Scarborough Fair Bed & Breakfast in Baltimore, MD
http://www.scarboroughfairbandb.com

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Gratitude Practice

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My week, and subsequently my weekend, was a bit of a roller-coaster ride. Anybody who has ever tried to run their own business, or who has to submit themselves to regular public scrutiny can probably relate pretty well to the way things went for me last week.

I had a few confidence shudders. A few squealing belts under my hood that wanted attention. Fortunately I have a pretty great support system. The mechanics of my life stepped in and told me what the trouble was, I listened to their expert advice, even if I didn’t want to pay what it cost in self-reflection. In the end, I chose the path of GET THE FUCK ON WITH IT.

After the tears and the fears started to wane enough to see a clear route, I stopped to reflect on gratitude. I see a therapist and she has me do this thing, which as it turns out is a pretty good thing – at least for me. That thing is writing down acknowledgments and gratitude. The acknowledgements are for the things I have done that day. Little pats on my back to myself, even for small things. Because face it, when you’re in a depression, or stressed and feel a bit like you’re failing – even small feats of organization, house-cleaning, or work can feel like mountains. And when you do big things you can sort of pat yourself on the back for, it helps lay a solid foundation for the direction you are headed. So–ALL GOOD STUFF!

The gratitude portion is just anything I am grateful for. It reminds me that no matter what I might be stressed about, or hurting from, or worried about, there is always something to be grateful for. Sometimes, on days that are rough, all I can manage is things like “easy access to telephones and email.” Among other little things that are actually quite important, like having enough food to eat and a roof over my head. Sometimes these things show up even on days that are a bonanza of good news, just because I remember a time when having those things was much harder.

Anyway, what I did was–instead of meditating on what didn’t go right–I meditated on what DID go right, or at least the parts of my day that were good. So here is what I posted on Facebook.

Good things that happened today – aka practicing gratitude:

-Will made me breakfast in bed. Then went out and got me pads and chocolate.
– Will and I got a little dressed up and looked pretty fly. Wore my new pendant Bridget made.
– Went to Baltimore, saw our friend Barry, had some of his spiced apple cider with caramel schnapps, got my fortune read, got some valuable feedback, enjoyed the Halloween decorations.
– Jade got to see two shows today thanks to Audrey. It makes my heart so happy when my friends are good to my babies
– The sky was amazing the whole way home from Baltimore.
– Stopped at Trader Joe’s and got some tasty food. An attractive woman with curly hair came up to me and flirted with me. She really digs my hair, and called me a silver fox and meowed at me. Lol
– We got home and my Hillary swag was here and I tried on my new shirt and it fit great and looks cute and Will complimented me several times. Kissed me and told me I’m cute.
– Amber sent me some sweet texts.
– Got a wonderful video from our granddaughter – who loves her little Halloween card we sent her.
– Will made me a Nasty Woman (see recipe further down my wall) – but used the cute highball glasses my sister gave me instead of a tumbler – which elevated the Nasty Womanness of the cocktail.

That’s a lot to be thankful for.

Love Letters – Epistles of Love and Longing in a Modern Age – 2

I am going to try and make the Love Letters thing on Fridays. I am going to write up a Sensual Sunday today, it will drop on Sunday, so come back and check it out!

It’s hard to figure out how much to share of something as personal as love letters. Things are out of context a bit. There is little clue as to how things between the texts and emails transpired, other than what is written.

One thing people might not realize is that I was married when I met Will. I embarked on a relationship with him two days after meeting him, with the knowledge and consent of my husband. Love is complicated, folks. Anyway, I will begin, as they say, at the beginning. Will emailed me and I emailed him back. Are these love letters? Maybe not. Not yet, anyway. But they are flirt letters. The beginning of a wonderful, and terrible, overwhelmingly beautiful and hurtful decade in my life. These letters are the cornerstone of a foundation he and I built together and holds us up today.

These are slightly abridged versions of the conversations, but mostly they are a copy and paste. Other than that, this is how it began. With words.

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From: William Hardy
Sent: Monday, July 15, 2002 2:43 PM
To: goddess@
Subject: Thanks for your address – I’m trying it out

Greetings, fair lady.

It was a real pleasure meeting you Saturday night. I’m looking forward to
seeing you again – before too long, I hope. Yes I thought about you quite a
bit that night. That was the most delicious kiss I’ve had in a looong time.

I’ve been to your site but couldn’t look at *all* of it because [redacted]. From what
I’ve seen (not much yet) I’m really struck by how strong your color sense
is. I wonder who some of your favorite artists are? Well, if you need a
model sometime, I’d be happy to work with you. I used to be good at
charcoal – I haven’t done any sketches since school, but I always enjoyed
working with live subjects. I’m hoping to get back into it, now that I have
all this “free time.” That, and learn to play violin, and write the great
American novel.

What, you don’t believe me?

More to come. Ciao fer now.

-Bill

P.S. Contact info:

[redacted]

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TO: William Hardy
From: Heather Bartlett

Mon 7/15/2002 4:04 PM

Sub: Hi yourself 😉

William,

It was a pleasure making your acquaintance as well…glad I could help you out with [redacted]. You must have been awful tired for moving day.

I kept thinking that you reminded me of an actor that I’d seen in movies, but I particularly remembered him from Veronica’s Closet, so after poking around on a Veronica’s Closet Website I figured out that you, with the beard, remind me of Ron Silver, I’m sure you know who he is. What particularly struck me was your smile…I think that was what sealed it, he has a great smile and a great aura, like you.

Some parts of the night are very dreamlike, because I’d been drinking in spurts, shots of bourbon and stuff, but other parts are clear. I was never totally fall-down smashed though. I did get to swim in the pool sometime after midnight, and I think I shocked the hell out of two of the twenty-something frat fellas because I decided to go topless…[redacted]

Thanks for the offer to pose, I’m always looking for subjects, usually I photograph, because I can’t force the art. I get tense when I think about live models because I worry that the artistic ability won’t be there at that moment, and I’ll be wasting the model’s time (I don’t like inconveniencing folks) I can’t force it for some reason, so I keep photos for when the urge strikes me and I use them for inspiration. I have female friends offer to pose for me, so they can help me get used to working with live models, but schedules haven’t allowed that yet. I suppose I’d be less concerned about it if I’d gone to college art classes and gotten used to using live models. Usually I just REMEMBER a moment…and THAT inspires me, curves, shadow, a person’s aura, a feeling. I am particularly inspired by intimacy. I have creative ups and downs. I’m in a creative UP right now. It makes me more flirtatious, more energetic and gives me the ability to see beauty in so many things, it’s overwhelming sometimes.

I wished you would start up charcoal again, I’d love to pose for you if you ever got back into it. 🙂

My favorite artists are Klimt, VanGough, Matisse,
Amy Brown (fairies), and Heinz Guth http://www.gutart.rit.se/framehome/frame.html there are LOTS more but those are the first ones that come to my mind. Actually I have more flooding in, but you get the idea.

Tell me about the play you’re working on, and where it’s at and stuff. I remember that it was an original…what theatre do you do work at? I have a production meeting tonight for “All My Sons”, Sweetie and I are doing costumes and props…when Sweetie, John , Julianna and I work on a show they call us the “Dream Team”…heh. Isn’t that funny?

I also belong to a Shakespeare Club called Chamberlain’s Men, http://www.chamberlainsmen.org and we JUST finished Hamlet, I *think* we’re studying “Taming of the Shrew” next. One of MY all time favorites.

Anyhoo, I’ve babbled on a while…I’ll send future emails to your “Super Secret Personal Account”, I giggled when I saw that. You’re too funny. 🙂

I’ll see you sometime soon.

Hugs,

Heather

The Corner of Fifteen

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It’s hard to imagine now just how small the world was to me then. He lived next door and worked for his dad’s contractor business. He fixed stuff. At least that’s what I thought. He broke stuff, too. My illusions of love, for example. My innocence of how lovers worked, and what power imbalance was. The belief that if you became pregnant, he would stay, because that’s what men are supposed to do. The reality that in the end, I might not want him to stay. And that people don’t always do what they are “supposed” to do.

I lost a lot of things that year, but I gained some things I would never trade. To say I am happy to have had a beautiful child come from that union may sound cliche, but I wouldn’t change it if I could. It set me on a path to self-improvement and an unfortunate spate of cynicism about men, I’m glad I’ve left behind (for the most part), but made me see feminism in a different light. Those bad experiences with a bad person set the cornerstone of the person I am today.

That house–my family’s, and his next door, are so foreign to me now. It’s like looking at a photo album from some movie I watched. I can conjure up the memories like they were last month, but I feel as though I am viewing them through a sheet of plastic.

I can’t remember the taste of him, or how he kissed. I can remember some of his cheesy lines and hurtful comments. I can remember him throwing pennies at me from his bedroom window. I can remember he smoked Marlboro reds and wore Stetson cologne. I would smell that combination into the mid-1990s sometimes, but thankfully Stetson has lost its appeal. Whichever men who might have stockpiled it, stuck in the 1980s, have probably run out by now.

My heart was broken. It was two years before I would date again. I wasn’t done making mistakes I wouldn’t fix, though. But that’s a story for another time.