About All This …

Who’s talking?

Hello and welcome! My name’s Randi. With an i.

Here’s a photo from Novosibirsk, Russia, where I used to live and teach.

I’m a fantasy writer, poet, polyglot, teacher, singer, amateur photographer and doodler trying my best to live a “deep life” from the heart and soul.

In other words, I’m here to create art, look beyond the surface, and shine in the small things.

As a writer, I’ve published poems in Strange Horizons and Quantum Fairy Tales, and in 2012 I won first prize in the poetry category of the “Grim Reaper Contest” held by Penn State’s Center for American Literary Studies (CALS). Though my publishing credits are mostly in poetry and online articles, my first love is fiction. I published the YA science fantasy The Mind Explorer in 2003 (don’t look it up), and I’m currently deep into a novel manuscript.

On this blog, you’ll mostly find commentary on books and poetry, translated poems, snippets of contemplation, as well as behind-the-scenes peeks into what I’m working on.

This is a litblog, right? So what’s with the title?

First and probably most honest answer: Because I’m constantly asking myself this question (“Why am I here, again?”), and then wondering why I’m not reading a book.

Serious answer: I said I’m trying to live from the “deep places,” right? Well, part of that means helping people remember why we’re here, doing what we’re doing. It’s no great secret that we need to be more fully “awake” in our lives, instead of watching them get frittered away on distractions.

Unfortunately, I’m terrible at self-help. I can’t tell you how to live with more wakefulness and depth, because I can’t even tell myself. But then again, that’s the wrong approach, anyway. You can’t have “mindfulness in 5 easy steps.” A deep life — one of silence, simplicity, love, wonder, and reflection — must be approached with reverence. It’s a mystery.

That said, reading and writing are two of the best ways I know, besides prayer, to slow down, reflect, and explore the deeper dimensions of one’s life. I even have some quotes to back me up on this:

The act of reading symbolizes something of what monastic life is all about: withdrawal from what is apparent to seek the reality that underlies appearances, in solitude, in silence, in recollection.
— Michael Casey, OSCO, 
Strangers to the City

I think that the power of art is the power to wake us up, strike us to our depths, change us. What are we searching for when we read a novel, see a film, listen to a piece of music? We are searching, through a work of art, for something that alters us, that we weren’t aware of before.
— Jhumpa Lahiri, In Other Words

So, even though this is a blog mostly about literature, language, and writing, it’s in the spirit of keeping awake and remembering why.

With a sense of humor, of course.

If you’ve got a bookish soul — or even just a hint of one — come and stay a while. Get involved in the comment box discussions. I’d love to hear from you.

To keep in touch, you can also sign up to receive the latest posts by email, with a short story thrown in:

What My Stories Are Like:

The simplest description is this — I write high and low fantasy inspired by world folklore and religion. (With particular affinity for Irish and Russian folklore and the monastic Christian tradition.)

I do not write erotica, grimdark, YA, sword and sorcery, or elves.

do write fiction that experiments with folklore come to life, or folklore characters revamped and transplanted into an epic fantasy world. I also tend to focus on “monastics,” or other characters with strong ties to whatever faith they hold.

I do not write Christian fiction, except what naturally leaks from my worldview into my work.

Expect some sexual themes, violence, and cursing. (But nowhere near the level of grimdark or erotica.)

Favorite Writers (no particular order):

Fyodor Dostoevsky, Flannery O’Connor, Anton Chekhov, Bertolt Brecht, Charles Dickens, C. S. Lewis, Wolfgang Borchert, Orson Scott Card, Rainer Maria Rilke, Jane Austen, G. K. Chesterton, Neil Gaiman, Amy Tan, J.R.R. Tolkien, W. B. Yeats, Ray Bradbury. New favorites that I’m still exploring include Brandon Sanderson and Yangsze Choo.

Language Wish List:

German: Level unknown, but dropped down from C1. Goal: Regain C1 level to speak more confidently and enjoy reading German literature again.

Russian: Inching toward B2 level now. Goal: Read Dostoevsky (especially The Brothers K) & Chekhov in the original, without stopping to look up words.

French: Estimated pre-intermediate level now, almost B1, but weak in listening comprehension. Goal: Reach at least a high B2 level and MOVE TO LA FRANCE! OK, or just enjoy French literature, which is pretty much the same as all my other language goals.

Swedish: I’d like to learn this language to B1 level, solely for the sake of my heritage. It’s on the back-burner, for now.

Language Learning Retirement Home: Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese. I knew ye (not so) well, and even less do I know ye now.

Heavenly Support Group:

Our Lady of FatimaSt Therese of LisieuxSaints Benedict and ScholasticaSt. GeorgePope Saint John Paul IISt Gianna Beretta Molla   St. Paul Chong Hasang