Réka here, Author of fantasy fiction adventure novel Dawn of the Guardian, chief storyteller at my travel blog of Dreamtime Traveler and your cucumber salad loving 15yo world explorer.
It has come to my attention that I can start a blog here on Goodreads / Dawnoftheguardian.com
A blog dedicated to three of my favourite things in the entire cosmos: reading and writing and of course, Dawn of the Guardian!
According to Goodreads, by starting a blog I can also:
✧ Start a following
✧ Keep my followers up to date
✧ Provide all of you, my beautiful readers with extra details about my book and upcoming books!
However… I wanted to create this blog for one other reason. You might be thinking what else could possibly be more important than reading and writing, but the truth is, I wanted to be able to share the personal journey behind Dawn of the Guardian and connect directly with all of you, my cherished readers.
As many of you might already know, we have embarked on Dawn of the Guardian’s 2016/2017 International Book Tour.
*happy dance* We have already been on the road for nearly 8 weeks on the first phase of the tour, which has seen us travel to schools, libraries, bookstores and communities of learning in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, York, Durham, Middlesbrough, Birmingham, Oxford, Farnham and London. It has been an incredible UK roadtrip, a truly rewarding and treasured experience to be able to meet and connect with so many inspiring children, teens, adults and families as we travel! This first phase of the tour has already become a defining factor in Dawn of the Guardian’s journey and I am still buzzing with gratitude.
But now I want to be able to share these experiences. The early mornings racing through traffic to get to a school engagement on time, the Home Ed Meet & Greet that turned into an afternoon Kundalini Yoga session and my innermost thoughts and feelings as I take my dream on the road.
“a truly rewarding and treasured experience to be able to meet and connect with so many inspiring children, teens, adults and families as we travel! “
Let’s start right now.
Recently I’ve been trying to pretend that everything in my life has been going absolutely perfectly. I’ve been trying to wash the windows that look onto this Book Tour so that not even a speck could mar the crystal clear glass. But close to three weeks ago, we got to a point where the window almost cracked.
We were sitting in the living room of our London accommodation, two days after DOTG’s UK leg of the Book Tour had ‘officially’ ended, with no tickets to our next destination and no funds to purchase them. You see, we have been self-funding Dawn of the Guardian’s journey since the moment it was born. The editing, typesetting, illustrating, publishing and now all the marketing you see surrounding DOTG has been completely financed by us or my closest family.
The truth is that not everything has been 100% peachy keen along this Book Tour and I’ve finally begun to realise that nothing in this life truly is. What I mean is that there is always more going on than what we see, always a behind the scenes rope that holds everything in place and sometimes that rope becomes so frayed that it is within millimetres of snapping altogether. I’ve had quite a few moments where the rope was stretched to its most extreme. However, no-one outside of our closest family ever sees those days where everything is so fragile that even a simple whisper could shatter everything.
But the problem isn’t that we never see these trials and tribulations; it’s that most of us are taught to pretend they never existed at all. As a 15-year-old author who published her first book at 14 and began to write it at 12, I have become extremely aware of the literary world and the standards many of my fellow authors are forced to uphold. The reality is that many of us have to hide away our everyday worries and anxieties because if we share them, we risk alienating an audience that may have only gathered in our theatre to hear about our professional work; namely our books. I’ve seen quite a few of my favourite authors suffer from a fear of becoming too personal, of sharing too much or of losing the high ground as an author, and in doing so they become distant, even a little bit contemptuous, and alienate their readers anyway.
A common encouragement among debut authors is “Do you know how many times J.K. Rowling was rejected at the beginning? Now look where she is!”
The tale of J.K. Rowling has become internationally renowned, how she was a single mother living in Edinburgh, Scotland and how she worked on her writing in a little cafe during the day because the apartment they were living in was too cold to house her and her daughter. The reason this story has become so inspirational isn’t because J.K. Rowling defied all odds to become the international success she is today. It’s because the story is personal. Genuine. Authentic. Real. It goes behind the glaze that not just authors, but everyday people put up in order to pretend that their lives are perfect.
I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t done the exact same thing many times before. The world wants you to believe that admitting defeat makes you weak. But to be able to bleed and to bleed openly is really a sign of strength.
With this in mind, I want to be real. Not just a pale hologram through your phone or computer screen. I want to be able to be approachable. I don’t want to be an author that can only connect with their readers through explosive new monthly updates about how they can win an exciting giveaway.
Now don’t get me wrong, those are great and I live for the moments when I get an email from one of my favourite authors announcing something new. But… I find that these emails, more often than rare, can be quite impersonal. I speak now not as an author but as an avid lover of so many incredible books and their authors when I say that I want to feel a part of their journey, a part of not only the fantastical carpet ride their book takes me on through my imagination, but also in real life.
Back in March of this year (2016), just a few meagre weeks before the launch of Dawn of the Guardian, I received an email from one of my absolute favourite authors. I won’t mention who, but it was a reply to an email I’d written to him (asking for advice he might be able to offer to a young, debut author) and one that I hadn’t expected to receive any response to. It had been a harsh couple of weeks at that point, trying to gain endorsements from other authors in my genre and coming up short each time. Those that did reply always had a polite, albeit dispassionate refusal, citing reasons such as “Not wanting to read a manuscript because then they might accidentally copy some of it into their current work.” “Too busy for anything but preparing for their own launches and book tours.” and “That they have publishers who employ publicists to do that sort of work – something they (the author) were very happy about!”
I completely understood and respect every single one of these reasons but I would be lying if I said I hadn’t begun to lose a little faith in my fellow authors. I vowed right then and there that no matter what heights Dawn of the Guardian might reach that I would always do my utmost to help or assist anyone who might find themselves in my position.
Anyway, you can imagine my excitement when this email from one of my absolute favourite authors whooshed into my inbox. All at once a giddy lightness entered my head, a feeling I can only equate to when we were at 5000 meters high in the Peruvian Andes. I sat down at my desk, my heart ticking like a bomb waiting to explode against my ribcage and read the email. And laughed. And cried. And smiled until I could no longer feel my cheekbones because it was kind. It was encouraging. And it spurred me on to continue. Three days later I got my endorsement.
These are the moments that have kept me from giving up. The moments a great author, someone I admire, took the time out of their day to offer some advice to a young, debut author. The moments when I go on Youtube to find that a Booktuber has given Dawn of the Guardian its first ‘Vlog’ and the moments when children younger than I, come up to me and ask me questions about writing and reading and say that one day they want to be an author too.
It hasn’t been easy writing this post, sharing some of the most incredibly personal moments along our journey so far but as my fingers begin to tire from typing on my laptop keyboard and my first Dawn of the Guardian / Goodreads blog post comes to a close, it is as if the proverbial weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I’m looking out the window now, here in my bedroom in New Jersey at the first snow (because yes, the stars aligned and the funds came together for us to purchase our tickets across the Atlantic) and I can see only the possibility in everything. Four days ago, it was so hot and sunny we were walking around in shorts and t-shirts. Today, we might as well be in the middle of Winter. What I take away from this wild weather is the realisation that things can change in the blink of an eye. Opportunities you could not see before, suddenly unearth themselves and what we don’t see is that they were there all along.
We are now on the cusp of the second leg in DOTG’s 2016/2017 International Book Tour and North America beckons. I don’t know exactly how everything will pan out just yet and I might never have everything planned to the nth degree, but I am secure in the knowledge that everything happens for a reason. That I am the cause of that reason and that until then, I will laugh at the confusion, live for the moment and work until my dreams come true.
I also know that soon, very soon, you will be getting another update, this time with the dates and places that Dawn of the Guardian will soon travel to. Some of you may smile and send me well wishes in your thoughts, some of you might delete my email and unsubscribe altogether, but I also know that some of you will bookmark the date, reserve the time and journey to the crossroads where we will finally meet. I look forward to that moment more than you will ever know.
I want to finish by saying that I might not be your run-of-the-mill Author with your run-of-the-mill Updates and your run-of-the-mill Meet & Greets and Book Signings. But you know what? I’m okay with that. In fact, I’m overjoyed. Because we’re going to build something, you and I. We’re going to build a bond that can last through distance and through time. Jodi Picoult once said that “The act of reading is a partnership. The author builds the house but the reader makes it home.” I want you to know that every single one of you is vital to my journey. That now, while I look forward to emails from my favourite authors, I no longer live for them. Instead, my heart ticks like a bomb waiting to explode against my ribcage when a message whooshes into my inbox and it is from you.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. There will be many more to come! I will be sharing everyday, personal insights into Dawn of the Guardian’s journey and the path I walk with it.