Taking the Dang Leap


I don’t even know how to start this.  When I was little, we lived in L.A.  Everything was within walking distance.  The school, for instance.  Two blocks away – long sides.  An uncomplicated walk, it was not uphill and it never did involve snow—just sometimes torrential rains and huge, convulsing knots of drowning earthworms.

In the beginning, my mom walked to school with me.  By “in the beginning” I don’t know if I mean my whole kindergarten year, or just the first time or two; my mom was an independent woman and she expected me to be an independent woman, too.  Of course, I was only five years old at the time—but, hey.

The thing I am remembering is the first time I took that walk by myself.  I imagine mom crossed the first street with me. Put my little feet on that first long sidewalk, turned my face schoolward and said, “See ya!!”  I don’t remember how far I got.  About a block, maybe.  Or half a block.  But at one point, I succumbed to terror and sentiment, the great indefinable size of the world and my own solitary smallness.  I stopped, burst into tears, spun on my heel and began to run back the way I’d come.  Ended up with my face buried in the dress of a total stranger, a girl maybe fourth grade or fifth.  And there I adheared..

I still don’t know who she was, but I love her.  She calmed me down, took my hand and walked me the rest of the way to school.  What a woman she was.

I am remembering this, I think, because last night I did a thing very much  like walking to school alone for the first time: I published my own book.  Just me as publisher, I released my new book to the world through Amazon’s Kindle shop.  And I was just as terrified doing that as I was–frozen in the middle of a sidewalk in LA a hundred years ago.

I’ve been published lots before.  By companies.  Companies with money and cover artists and editors all working on the book and validating it and pruning it along the way.  I had to believe, even in my fits of artistic-minded collapse of self-confidence, that the book was worth taking up room on the planet—because they were willing to put money behind it.  And they wouldn’t have done that out of any sense of altruism.

But this time, it’s just me.

And I am terrified.

What if the books stinks?  How will I know till it’s too late?  And if the book is good, how will anybody even know it’s out there?  THIS IS SCARY.

And I miss Rosemary.  Do you hear me girl?  I MISS YOU.

My first editor was a wonderful, very proper English gentleman, George Bickersraff.  He told me that in England, the philosophy of publishers had little to do with story editing.  Copy editing, yes—grammar, spelling, punctuation—that kind of thing.  But publishers there believed (at least, they did then) that the story belonged to the author—and they did not prune.  For the good or the bad, the author was in charge of her own content.  Reading Rowling, I suspect that this is still the way things go there.

But I have owed so much to the wisdom of George and Tonya and my Rosemary; hanging myself out there like this is—difficult.

I have stopped in the sidewalk several times in the last year.  But there have always been solid angels behind me to catch me when I spin to run.  Some of them simply love me into turning around.  Rachel, my kids, Melissa Proffitt, Guy—and so many others.  Some actually took me by the hand and walked me the rest of the way, like Laura and Tracey, without whom I would have left this manuscript and my confidence to languish in gray limbo.  And without whom I would never have had the courage to attempt to unravel the very arcane path to this Kindle thing.  They are magicians.

And Chaz—who held my hand last night.  Well, not really,  She sat in my chair and filled in all the blanks at Amazon while I stood behind her, afraid to watch.

It’s such a weird thing—being driven to tell stories, and then having the utter chutzpah to expect that anybody on the planet might—or even should be expected to read the things.

But there you are.  And so I make the announcement—formally, with hope and trepidation:

Kristen D. Randle

Award winning author

Holder of the California Young Readers’ Medal

has just published her new book:

The Gardener

available here and Kindle-ready.

Please come.  Please read.  I hope you enjoy it.



Gahhh!!!  My hands are just shaking.

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10 thoughts on “Taking the Dang Leap

  1. Chalea Edwards says:

    Thank you once again for sharing your wonderful talent with the world through some of the most amazing stories that I have ever written! I greatly enjoyed reading ‘The Gardener’ and am already recommending it to others.

  2. Oh, Chalea – thank you so much for your support. This means tons to me.

  3. You go girl!
    Or something like that.
    I’m trying to say, I’m cheering for you.

  4. Phooey. I replied through email, but I guess it didn’t register somehow. THANKS, woman! It’s nice to find ourselves cheering for each other, huh?

  5. Oh, Kristen, thank you so much for taking that leap!!! I found your book “The Only Alien on the Planet” about a month ago in a used book store. I’m not even sure why I picked it up, but something about the cover caught my eye. And my new years resolution is to be more adventurous with my reading…not waiting for books to be recommended to me but to just try things that look or sound interesting. So I bought it on a whim and read it in about 2 days. And then read it again in the next two days. I can honestly say that I have NEVER done that before. I may have read a few books multiple times, but even that is rare for me. Why read something again when there are so many new things to read? But I just fell in love with the story.
    So of course the next thing I did was pick up my Kindle and look for more work by you. And I found the Gardner. Another winner. I really enjoyed it. Such a great story.
    So no matter how one finds a good book, there is no denying a wonderful story and I thank you for these two that I have loved so well this year. I look forward to many more! I will be looking for you on Kindle (and in used book stores). 🙂

    • WOO-HOOOO!! I’m so excited! Review it on Amazon, will you? That’s the only way I really have of letting anybody know about it. But that’s beside the point. I’m SO excited that you found me. And that you loved both books. I’ve known for years that I did my job with Alien, but the new one? I’ve been hoping. I’m preparing one of my out of prints for ebook and should get it up fairly soon. Bless your heart, hon = thank you so much.

      • I’ve got Gardener reviewed on amazon and a link on facebook. When I read “Alien” I was shocked that I had never found the book before now. And now I am surprised again that “Gardener” is so new! But I will be talking it up and I hope you have great success!

        • I just found it. Frankly, I’m all aglow. Alien has actually been published twice, once in the mid ’90s – when it won scads of awards, and once a couple of years ago, a re-publish by Sourcebooks. When the second printing came out, people responded as though it were a totally new book nobody’d ever heard of before. It sold over 110,000 copies in the first printing. We live in a world that is moving very fast now. I mean really – how different is your life now than it was in 1996? We do everything differently (except maybe cooking fried chicken – except I don’t cook it anymore). It’s weird. But you did find it. And I couldn’t be happier.

  6. I just realized you have published these three new books. Congratulations! I love your earlier work, and look forward to seeing them. I will announce them iny next Week in Review collumn on the AML website (http://www.blog.mormonletters.org/)
    Are you thinking of publishing any of your (4?) 1980s/Mormon novels? I hope so, I was impressed by On the Side of the Angels.

    • Oh – yay- Please DO announce them, Andrew – I’ll check into the blog and look. This is exciting. I’d love to hear what you think of the new stuff. I haven’t done any of the ’80s ones. Maybe I should – I’ll check with the publisher and make sure I have my rights back. Why didn’t I think of that? Thank you for the mem-jog and for dropping in to say Hey!!