I had the AMAZING opportunity of asking author Elle Katherine White a few questions on our shared release day yesterday. I think you'll enjoy her responses.
Make sure to pick up Heartstone wherever books are sold!
KRK: When you were writing Heartstone, how much did you let the original Pride and Prejudice influence you? Did you reread it multiple times to get the feel, or did you set it aside so you could create something all your own?
They were in a stone tunnel, unadorned save for a number repeated on the walls. 105? One hundred and five of what? Anjey's breath came in white clouds as she puzzled over their possible meanings. People in bizarre clothes bustled around her. Some bore signs written in an unfamiliar script; others had painted their faces as if for battle. Blue and yellow seemed the colors of choice, and most people also wore what Anjey assumed was the crest of some powerful family on their surcoats and jerkins. A Rider's family, perhaps? It made sense; the crest featured two drawn swords and a creature that looked a little like a humpbacked beoryn. From somewhere quite close came a thunderous roar and -- what in the world? -- the sound of an organ.
"Uh, Lady Charis?" Anjey moved closer to the Rider, thankful at least one familiar face had followed her into this mysterious . . . whatever it was. "Please tell me you recognize this place."
"I'm afraid not." Charis didn't take her eyes from the opposite end of the tunnel, where it sounded as if something quite dreadful was happening. "In fact, Miss Bentaine, I don't think we're in Arle at all."
"I had the horrible feeling you were going to say that."
Charis rested one hand on the hilt of her sword. "We should investigate. Stay close."
I also had the feeling you were going to say that, Anjey thought, but followed Charis out.
They emerged, blinking in the stark daylight of an unfamiliar sun and surrounded by hundreds, no, thousands of screaming strangers. Anjey turned around to take it all in. Seats rose on all sides, higher than she could see. An arena? A chant ran through the crowd, the words incomprehensible but the emotion unmistakable. These people, whoever they were, were positively drunk on excitement.
Anjey bumped into Charis's shoulder. She'd loosened her grip on her sword and stood staring at the spectacle in the center of the arena. "Is that . . . ice?" Anjey asked.
"It must be," Charis said. "How curious."
Not far beyond them, behind panes of dirty glass, figures moved across the ice with an elegance Anjey had only ever seen in dragonkind. Half wore the familiar blue-and-yellow surcoats with the crest of crossed swords; the others wore red. Each carried a long staff. They seemed to be locked in a vicious albeit graceful struggle for a small black object, which each color tried to steer toward the net-draped boxes at each end of the arena.
"Oh! It's a game," Anjey said under her breath.
"Don't you see? It's a game!" Anjey said. "Watch."
Just at that moment, a bearded figure in blue broke from the line of red guarding the opposite box. The crowd roared. The player drew back his staff, sighted aim, and--
A red player slammed into the man in blue, sending them both crashing into the ice. The arena erupted. Boos, hisses, and cries for justice filled the air. As they watched, the two players rose and exchanged words; inaudible of course, but even Anjey could see their intent. Gloves fell to the ice. Helms and staves were thrown aside. They circled each other, fists raised.
The crowd went wild.
Charis turned to Anjey with a smile. "I like this game."
KRK: When you were little, what characters and in what books were your heroes - who made you want to tell stories?
KRK: If you were attacked by a sorceress and turned into a bird, what kind of bird would you be turned into (based on your personality and preference)?
All of you are swansNo matter what anyone tells you.
Good morning, lovelies,
I recently had someone insinuate that Swanitude was only for white people and that I personally was only for white people...all because they saw a personal post of mine that didn't decry the world was coming to an end.
People are funny.
While I can take personal criticism, the subtle attack of Swanitude made me want to flip a table. But what good would that do? What would I gain from arguing with someone who 1) doesn't know me at all and 2) didn't read my post in its proper context.
Nothing. I would gain nothing.
Regardless of which side of the debate you fall these days, I challenge you to react with love. Not anger. Not hate. Not arguments.
When someone tells you you're wrong, show them love. When someone calls you names (bigot, racist, worthless, uneducated, and all those other words flying from all sides to all people), I challenge you, not to not feel hurt - words hurt - but to look at those words through the lens of your swanitude.
Are they true?
No. They aren't.
They hurt, yes, but they are still lies trying to steal what I know many of you have fought hard for.
Loving yourself and seeing yourself as you were created to be.
The thing is, sometimes people call you names or say mean things because they don't like themselves, or they don't like things that aren't similar to themselves. They're the ones missing out on how awesome you are.
So if anyone tries to tell you that you aren't a swan (in whatever words they choose to convey that), remember this:
Swanitude is for everyone, as everyone was created in God's image (my personal belief) and is beautiful and loved.
Swanitude doesn't care about your ethnicity, faith, or orientation. It sees you as you truly are: loved.
When people come against that...when they call you wrong or broken...just know that they have no idea. They don't know you.
Your skin, whatever color, whatever blemishes or excess, is beautiful. Your body, whether it's thick or thin, is beautiful. Your hair, your nose, your eyes, your knees...your heart and soul...your beliefs and your preferences...NONE OF THOSE THINGS will ever exclude you from Swanitude.
My readers are from every continent, from every background, gender, and reality. They are men and women, gay, straight and bisexual. They are black, white, and every color in between. They are different political beliefs. They are each unique, special, and so loved.
If someone tries to tell you otherwise, instead of getting mad, wow them. Show them love. Love isn't something you can fight against.
As my country and many others fill with hate and spew negativity across party lines, I encourage you to change the narrative.
Spread your wings and show people that you have something different, and they are welcome to join.
Fly high my friends.
You. Are. Loved.
No matter who you are.
Kelsey The Swan
It's been under 20 degrees for several weeks now.
But I love the cold, so it works for me. Can you believe it's only FOUR MORE DAYS until A Stolen Crown releases?! I can't! I mean, two books in under one year? Am I CRAZY?
Yes. Yes I am. (Did I mention I ALSO got A Stolen Kiss into audiobook!?)
I'll be honest, Crown proved far more laborious, intensive, and excruciating than Kiss. Kiss flowed out like a steady stream, nearly perfect after just the first draft.
Crown dragged me kicking and screaming through the fire of all the hells to get it to where it is today.
And yet, in many ways, it makes me love Crown in a special way. I had to work for it, hard, in order to love it enough to release it to all of you. It's, in my opinion, my best writing to date. The characters are some of my favorite I've ever written, and I think the message is an important one.
You can get your copy (signed) from me on my website OR you can get it in e-book or paperback wherever awesome books are sold online.
Thank you all for your encouragement during this process. A Stolen Crown wouldn't be here if it wasn't for you!
If you want to hang out with me and the amazing Elle Katherine White (who also has an AMAZEBALLS book releasing on Tuesday), you can join us over on Facebook!
You all are the best. I'm so grateful. Thank you, for everything.
Kelsey Squealing Swan
Happy 2017!Do you make resolutions?
I've never really been one for them - they never seem attainable. I may have good intentions when the new year begins, but I never set myself to any goal just because the number at the end of the year changed.
What about you? Do you make them, and if so - are you successful?
I made a goal for A Stolen Crown to be out by January 17th back in...October? It was a lofty goal - almost impossible. And yet, it meant something to me, and so it's happening.I didn't need a new year for that. I just needed the right motivation.
This year, maybe I'll get another book out. Maybe I won't. I do plan to write draft 1 of book 4 and rewrite book 3...but beyond that, I'm not quite as gung-ho about a release date as I am for a week from Tuesday (AHH IT'S SO CLOSE!)
I figure, as this is my first email of the year, I might just go with the reminder of what we've got ahead of us. 2016 was awesome for some, awful for others, and then just kind of eh, no big deal for more yet. A new year doesn't magically wipe away things that happened or the way we feel about anything, but that doesn't mean we can't make changes.
One of our wonderful swans (her name is Elizabeth, and she's awesome) sent me a video that reminded her of swanitude. It even has the ugly duckling right in the video!
Now, it's from the Mormon church, but for those of us who aren't Mormon, it shouldn't take away from the message it gives us.
Be you Mormon, Catholic, Agnostic, Atheist, Lutheran, Protestant, Buddhist, Muslim...the list goes on and on and on of our options, you are a swan. You are loved. You are beautiful.
Be you republican, democrat, liberal, conservative, foreigner or local;
Whether or not you see eye to eye with your neighbor...we are all in this together. Let's spread the love and the truth of who we are.
We are swans. We are loved and we are loving. In a world that focuses on darkness and hate, we are light.
Let's make 2017 amazing, just like you :)
Kelsey Irresolute Swan
P.S. If you have a resolution and want to share, reply to this email! If you have a swan song to share, reply to this email. If you just want to say hey...you guessed it! Reply to this email ;)
(Feel no pressure to watch the video, but if you're interested, it's below! )
We have 20 inches of snow!It's a new record for one day's worth.
Tis super cold up in the north, my friends. Beware the icicles forming on your wings. They make it difficult to fly.
No joke, it's dangerous to drive outside - and pets? Forget it if you think you can leave them outdoors (you're a monster if you do, anyway. All pets inside! wooo!)
I'm just stopping in super quick to say something big...
PROOFS ARE ON THEIR WAY!
I REPEAT - A STOLEN CROWN PROOFS ARE ON THEIR WAY!
I can't wait. The proofreader is going over the manuscript now. It's legitimately going to happen folks. Book two will be here on January 17th.
Also, wanted to remind you:
As you get swept up in the season, don't let the commercialism or stress overtake you. It's about joy, love, family, and the ultimate gift. If you're struggling with what you want, or what to give, consider giving to Aleppo or Increase Christmas in someone's name. Change the world. YOU can do something.
I know it's horrific. I know it's scary. Posting things on Facebook and saying "don't look away" isn't enough. Talking about it on social media makes it about us. It's not real action.
Take action. Do what you can. Give, pray, love. Whatever you can do matters. Let's stick together and unite for the people all across this world (homeless, veterans, refugees, those fleeing danger, and those who are defending our rights overseas).
All my love, my friends.
Kelsey Frozen Swan
A Letter From The President
Just kidding. I'm so not the president.
I can't wait for this election season to be over. If you're an American reader, I'm sure you feel the same (though maybe our friends from other countries are also sick of it).
I'm not here to talk politics. It's not my thing.
I'm here to talk...
No, actually I'm not here to talk about an institution of higher education. I just really like that word. It's fun to say.
Did you say it?
I'm here for random today. Or maybe a bit of a whine.
Life has been awesome thus far in my world, but I have a few major things coming up in all of my jobs, and they're all colliding. Yay!
So I'm here, really, just to ask you all for encouragement. I know that this is the most loving, encouraging, fantastic group of readers around, so I'm hoping it's my turn to tap into that.
I'm feeling the strain, swans. I'm tired, my chronic pain is acting up, and there's so much to be done. I know it's all possible (because it is), but I'm feeling a bit "wah wah" today and would like the reminder to put on my big girl panties and cowgirl up.
That's where you come in.
Whether it's soft and gentle or tough love, I'm ready for it. Bring it on!
And if you're thinking "um, this is NOT why I signed up for this email list, to pamper some whiny girl who believes she's a flying bird..."
That's okay, too. You don't have to respond. Instead, roll your eyes, watch the adorable video below, and hope that Sane Kelsey comes back next week.
If YOU need a bit of encouragement or pep talk, reply to this email! I am more than happy to reciprocate :)
Never forget how much I adore you all. You make my world bright!!
Kelsey Fatigued Swan
Last week was amazing. I was BLOWN AWAY by all of the responses I received from you amazing readers out there. I loved hearing your positive words, and my heart broke over the negative things people have said about you or to you.
Also, funny aside...my email (as you know) was about unsubscribing from people who aren't adding value to your life, and 6 people unsubscribed from the newsletter! I couldn't help but laugh.
Hey, if I'm not adding value, I completely agree. Run away from here so you don't have to just delete emails. Do you do that to? That's totally what I do. I just delete all the Best Buy and Altar'd State emails I get (unless there's a sale). I should just unsubscribe. Oh wait. I did. But the emails KEEP COMING BACK!
But I digress.
I crazy loved your responses. I felt so encouraged by all of you, and I hope what I had to offer in return encouraged you as well.
One in particular really felt like a nugget of wisdom, so I thought I'd share it with you today.
"The funny thing I discovered when I unsubscribed from certain people, is that those who were dearest to me suddenly subscribed to me! That is the best way to describe the change in those relationships. From the moment I unsubscribed from them and they came back to me, the relationship was on my terms - and none of the hurtful words were ever repeated again! My parents began to see and treat me as a real adult (I was 32, a wife and a mother when this happened. About bloody time, don't you agree?).
So unsubscribing doesn't have to be the end of a relationship, but it certainly is a huge step towards self-confidence and self-appreciation. And the first often follows from the second :)."
As I read that (after I chuckled at "about bloody time"), I felt one of those "wow" moments we've all had. Unsubscribing doesn't have to be the end. I didn't cover that in what I said, but when I saw Chris say it, the truth rang out and I asked if I could share it with all of you. She agreed.
If you're still a bit concerned about unsubscribing from someone, I hope you'll take Chris's words as encouragement today. If that person values you, they'll make sure to resubscribe to you in a healthy way where you aren't the one always put down. And if they DON'T, maybe that can be a giant flashing sign letting you know you deserve better than they were for you.
So today is short and sweet. I wanted to thank you all for the replies I received. I was so overwhelmed by them and honored and humbled to have you listening to me as I shout out into the void, wondering if it falls on deaf ears.
Thank you. And as this hopefully proved, I'm here if you need me.
If you didn't participate last week, but want to, it's never too late. Reply to this email with three positive words about you and three negative things others have said to/about you. We can combat these demons together.
Also, I included some information on an anthology that's coming soon that I, personally, adore. So if you're interested, check it out :)
Keep on wowing people, gang. You are beautiful, creative, smart, kind, funny--you are YOU and no one can take that or copy it.
Embrace your swanitude.
Kelsey Humbled Swan
Who am I subscribed to?
Only about 50% of my email list opens my emails...Which is totally cool, but I can't help but wonder - why are the rest of you here?
It's kind of a joke to ask this question, since they don't open the email and read what's inside, amIright?
But you're here, and you make writing these emails worthwhile. Your responses make my day. I love being encouraged by you and encouraging you in turn.
I read every email I receive. You are the best!
I know you know, because I totally told you, but I'm doing this #unblemished challenge for the month of September, and I realized something very interesting.
The last two days were thus: Day 14 - Three positive words to describe you; Day 15 - three negative things others have said about you.
Just as with every other day, I posted my words for both days in the form of a creative instagram picture (Thank you, Canva), and went about with my life.
Thing is, I hardly got ANY response on the positive words. No affirmation, no "hear hear!" or anything like that, really. Maybe one comment on Facebook?
But on the negative day, I received a SLEW of responses from people telling me the negative words weren't true. That they were lies, and the commentors were sorry anyone had ever said such things to me.
It was weird, because I was just following the challenge. I was only doing what I'd agreed to do in starting #Unblemished U. Those words, in that moment, didn't hurt. They were just words people had used against me.
People I'd already "unsubscribed" from.
While it was super great to have support and positivity pour in from my friends and family, reminding me that these words weren't true, I wondered why they weren't agreeing with me the day before? Affirming the words that I hoped described me? Is it perceived vanity? Or the illusion of confidence, and therefore I didn't need any help believing it?
I think it's a lot easier for us to be negative about ourselves than positive (obvs), but I wonder if that's because people accept the negativity. They accept the idea that they can combat that. When we're positive, people go silent. Is silence agreement?
How many of us walk around with negative things others have said about us weighing us down each and every day, either because we feel we can't be positive about ourselves (as we're met with blank faces), or because we don't believe anything positive about ourselves?
Who in your life is saying negative things about you? Making you feel bad? Who is just rolling their eyes when you find an ounce of confidence and hold tight, lifting your chin and saying "I can do this. You have no power over me"?
I think it's time to unsubscribe from them. Online, in life...whatever capacity they are to you. You deserve people who are going to run to your aid the way I had when I posted the negative words people had said.
You also need people who are going to say "damn straight" when you tell a positive truth about yourself or have self-confidence.
Anyone else isn't necessary, and news flash - it's okay to cut them out of your life. It might feel like it isn't, like you're being mean, but you don't have to be friends (or even family) with someone who treats you poorly.
Put up some boundaries.
And hold tight to your positive words, letting the negative ones brush off.
What are 3 positive words about you and 3 negative things that people have said about you?
Which one was easier to come up with? I'm open for discussion. Reply to this email and let's have a little chat.
As always, keep on embracing your #swanitude, you adorable swans, you.
Kelsey Unsubscribing Swan
It is universally acknowledged that...
A human being with feelings will be in generally want of some self-esteem.
It doesn't matter when you realize your swanitude, whether it's today, last year, or a year from now...there will always be times of doubt.
Times when you think you might not be worthwhile.
Days where you wonder if any of your coworkers even like you at all.
Hours/Minutes/Seconds of self-deprecation.
It's just human nature.
I'm having one of those days today (It's Thursday. I'm writing this one day earlier and scheduling it due to my cousin getting married. Yay Anna! *throws confetti*)
I sat in a meeting, made some sort of comment, and felt the disinterested glances from my coworkers. Inside, the lies began at once.
They don't like you.
They wish you weren't here.
No one on staff wants you around. They wish you'd quit. You add no value here.
This isn't a new lie to me, but one I've faced my entire life. The lie of not belonging. I can remember this feeling all the way from elementary school right up to my very own FRIENDS.
They're only friends with me because they feel like they have to be. They pity me. None of them actually want me around...
These lies are dangerous. They aren't like the lies against our physical selves--the ugly, the fat, the weak--which can be fought with other physical means or words of affirmation. Lies against our selves.
Our true selves.
Our very souls.
These lies can sink in and grab hold. It's not just that you're ugly...you're not worth looking at.
It's not just that you're fat...you're a waste of space, disgusting.
It's not just that you're stupid...you aren't worth listening to.
And on and on.
The lie tells you it can't be fixed. There's something inherently wrong with YOU and who YOU are.
Even as I sat in the meeting, this feeling stirring in my soul, I had to mentally force myself to combat it. KNOWING it was a lie--and honestly, even if it wasn't--I had to kill it so I could continue with my work.
It's a lot like weight lifting, Swanitude. You build the muscle through exercise. You have to teach yourself how to respond when these things come your way. The more you build up your Swanitude muscle in your brain, the quicker you'll be able to fight against the Ugly Duckling syndrome when it descends. You have to keep that muscle fresh and ready. If you let yourself fall into those lies (we all do at times), it's going to be harder to get yourself out.
Self-worth isn't pride. Healthy self-esteem isn't vanity.
Self-deprecation isn't humility.
We're taught the opposite of these things (especially women) and are told we can't value ourselves and be valued by others. It's one or the other, but not both.
It's simply not true.
Even as I sat thinking ill thoughts today, I remembered one of our beautiful swans sending me a message just yesterday, letting me know that I've been an influence in her life.
Maybe you don't need to hear this today. Maybe you're thinking "Kelsey, I'm on track. I got this. I'm feeling good."
Turn around and find someone who isn't. Find someone who has never heard that they aren't the ugly duckling and let them know.
When you do, let me know - tell me how it worked. I want to be able to report back to you all what you each are doing.
I want us to prove we can change the world, one heart at a time.
And if you are having one of those days, know that I see you. I see your value, your beauty, and your spunk. I see all the possibilities in you that you can't see in yourself, and I'm here to tell you...
You are so worth it. Hold on tight. You can do it.
If you need help, we can do it together.
If you feel me, reply to this email. If you're having a rough day, let me know. If you're feeling great, tell me about it!
And if you have a story about your own swanitude (doubts, realizations, struggles, wins) or about someone else's (or someone who might need our encouragement), please PLEASE let me know.
Kelsey Weight Lifting Swan
We have these ugly snout moths every summer...
They are EVERYWHERE! They cover buildings, parking lots, and even your car if it's parked long enough. I don't mind regular moths--like legit moths. I actually kind of like them and save them if they end up inside.
But these things? These things are the WORST. They creep me out. They're the kind to fly up your nose or into your hair.
They attach themselves to my windshield, and when I drive, they cling with all their might to keep from flying off. It looks so uncomfortable. They hang on by one leg, sticky and fixed to the glass, their whole body flopping about in their effort to stay somewhere that isn't safe.
They refuse to let go when things start to get rough, fly into the breeze, and stand a chance at reorienting themselves and living another day.
The longer they hold on, the more likely they are to lose their grip, the car's speed to high for them to catch themselves when they go sailing into the sky. The longer they hold on, the more dangerous letting go becomes.
It occurred to me today, as I watched one snout moth hang on with only one leg, that I do this. I hold on for too long. I refuse to let go of ideas, traditions, jobs--what have you--sometimes until it's too late.
Wind whips past me, threatening to grow stronger, more dangerous, but instead of getting out alive, I grip tighter, refusing to let go of something that, in all honesty, isn't that important. Whatever it is that God is trying to show me isn't healthy--isn't safe--I cling to it, refusing to set myself free and return to the sky I belong to.
No, I cling to these things that may not kill me, but will result in some sort of cost. Maybe it's not asking for help on a project or a problem I'm having. Maybe it's an idea or image I have of how things should be.
I used to cling to the idea that my life would start when I found my "person." When I found the man to spend the rest of my life with, we would do ALL THE THINGS, and I would get published (because I would have my new last name), and life would be good.
Oh how Young Kelsey fixated on this.
Getting her to let go wasn't easy.
One day it occurred to me that another person isn't going to make me whole. Another person isn't going to make me worthwhile. God already does that. I am whole just as I am.
I didn't have to wait for my life to start.
So I didn't.
I let go.
I traveled. Published my first novel (later than I wanted, but it happened). Tried new things. Accepted myself for who I am and who I can become.
I don't want to be the bug on the windshield. I don't want to be too proud to ask for help or admit I was wrong.
I want to let go, open my hands, and embrace what this world has to offer.
I want to fly high in the sky, not hold fast to a speeding whirl of death and disappointment.
What about you? What are you holding on to that needs to be let go? Reply to this email if you can dig it.
No idea why I just time-traveled to the 70s...
Keep on being awesome, Swans. You deserve to let go and live life to the fullest.
Kelsey Flying Swan