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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.

On Boneheads and Literati

literaturesilly A danged lovely read. Written by Joni Newman, guest essayist ~ A few years ago as an undergrad I took a literature class that very nearly sucked all the life out of me.  The class included a plethora of post-modern literature.  It meant a semester with authors like Cormac McCarthy and Toni Morrison – authors […] Continue reading →

Being an Author

Shakespeare One year, I made the mistake of agreeing to judge our state novel writing contest.  It shouldn’t have been bad; there were only five or so manuscripts entered.  The first one I looked at  was all about “flatulence man,” a superhero(I am not making this up).  One was a fairly creditable historical novel. But the rest […] Continue reading →

The Publishing Biz

PrintingPress Once I saw this PBS thing about the Beatrix Potter story—how she’d inked her charming illustrations and written the stories to match and finally, bucking civilized behavior, actually found herself a London publisher to make all of this into books.  The thing in the story that amazed me and filled me with what was honestly […] Continue reading →


1991-12RedingDePaula Once upon a time, somebody told the first story. I’m sitting here, trying to imagine it.  Who it was.  Who she was telling it to.  What the world looked like then, and what the story might have been about. Maybe it was an answer to a question, like, “Where did you come from?”  Or “Where […] Continue reading →

Sacred Cows

CowSign You remember Tootsie?  That movie that had Dustin Hoffman in it – the one when he got the soap opera gig?  Yeah, well, there’s this scene in the middle of it somewhere when he’s talking to his buddy, and they’re discussing this scene in a play the guy is trying to get produced. “You know […] Continue reading →


WittnerMetronome-2 In comedy, timing is everything. Change the timing, and a comedy can quickly turn into tragedy. In music, timing is the foundation of everything.  Even in freeform stuff like Eric Whitacre’s work, there is a time to let go of a chord.  The right time. You’ve seen movie scenes that have made your eyes roll […] Continue reading →


BaurHorseBigger There are only so many. Basically, every story goes something like this: man, woman, child, animal-protagonist-treated-anthropomorphically  deals with antagonists, nature, supernatural or alien elements in order to win love, get sex, save the world, right a wrong, win power, or just get what they want – including and up to acceptance in the world. At […] Continue reading →

Me? I Prefer People to Finger Puppets

ChazDragonMiddle One of the elements that separates good writing from the boiler-plate stuff is the quality of the characters.  I remember picking up one of the first local novels ever published in my neck of the woods—one that was being devoured by all my students (think Twilight, but on an even more grass-roots basis and without […] Continue reading →

Bad Boys and Brooding Heroes

Bad Boys What is it that draws women to these guys?  Lately, I heard a piece on the radio about this very thing – that a recent study found women to be drawn to men dark and brooding—or  forceful and swaggering.  Happy men?  Out in the cold. The odd corollary to this is that men were most […] Continue reading →