ByLauren Blanset, writer at
Lauren Blanset

Let's be real. We're all gamers, geeks, bookworms, and nerds. We’ve grown up with Starfox and Xbox, Pokémon and DragonCon, HP Lovecraft and Hogwarts witchcraft. We’ve witnessed cinematic splendors in The Wizard of Oz to The Lord of the Rings, and have dueled dragons online in worlds of warcraft and wizardry—all from the comfort of our cozy couches and sometimes basements.

It's True: Fantasy is Our Reality

So then why is our reality void of fantasy books catered to kids and adults-that-never-grew-up-like-me? Sure, we’ve got fantastic novels like Harry Potter and Percy Jackson and Game of Thrones, but those books are seriously not suited for low-level heroes & knights-in-potty-training.

Despite our fascination with fantasy literature (and movies & games & cartoons), all the kids books out there are about hungry caterpillars or curious monkeys or little blue engines that literally can’t even right now. Not to mention, the illustrations in these self-proclaimed "picture-books" have the WORST graphics ever.

The background scenery looks like dentist wallpaper, the text is Times New Roman or Comic Sans, and the character design appears to be the unfortunate lovechild of School House Rock and Cracker Barrel Country Store.

Why can’t kids books be fun and full of adventure? Why don't children's books look like all those fantasy RPGs and Puzzle Match-3s that populate the App Stores and iPad home screens? Moms and dads don’t want their kids playing video games ALL THE TIME. LIKE THEY DO. Parents want their offspring to embark on fun AND educational adventures since that’ll actually buff IRL character stats like Knowledge, Intellect, and Vocabulary, amiright?

Right I am! And since reading is arguably the best way to level-up Humans, I set forth to find a fable fulfilling these strict quest requirements.

If The Books I Want Don't Exist, I'll Make 'Em Myself!

I adventured across the , crossed craggily boarders into Barnes and Noble, and ogled all of Google for such a storybook that looks like a fantasy RPG while tricking the children into thinking that reading IS fun.

I literally spent a bajillion hours searching. No I’m not exaggerating—no such kids book could be found! Amazon alone has like 20 million books (don't quote me on that), and yet not one was worth a second look. Or, more importantly, an Add to Cart candidate.

For a second there, I was scream-face-emoji times 3, but then I was all like, hmmmmmm-face, for a wise wizard had just texted me:

I exist, therefore I am on Google.

Wow: this was much more than just a push notification—it was a sign! Meaning: if an epic fantasy children’s book existed, it would be on the Internet; but since no such book was found, it simply did not exist at all!

What DID exist on Google was my sterling LinkedIn profile, touting my achievements in the fantasy RPG video game industry where I was hailed Storyline Scribe & Community Liaison—I even won a trophy flaunting my excellence AND humbleness. Of course.

And in 7 years time, I leveled up & gained mad EXP alongside gamers and game developers and sometimes overly-obsessed fanboys, so who better to write a fantasy-filled adventure book other than… me?

Armed with a QWERTY quill & a quiver of quick-wits, I started rewriting a work-in-progress that I had written years ago: it was a fantasy-themed remake of my family’s favorite story, “A Visit From Saint Nicholas.”

Ohhh how fondly I remember sitting ‘round the fireplace with my sisters & my mom as my dad captivated us in spellbound storybook rhyme; I can still hear his voice and see his smile anytime I hear those classic carol-like lyrics sing: “Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house…”

But the Holly-Jolly Spirit Shattered When…

Me and my dad
Me and my dad

*** cue emotional interlude ***

When I was 18, my father was murdered.

I watched helplessly as he hung on to life. I wept hopelessly as I held my dad’s hand and as I cried the last “I love you Dad,” he somehow summoned the strength to squeeze my hand mere moments before there was no more.

No more smiles. No more laughter. No more story-time full of feel-good fun. My dad was the spirit of Christmas no more. A husband, brother, and uncle... all gone.

With each passing year and each passing tear, my family has no father to bring us Christmas cheer. So in hopes of restoring the spirit of Christmas to my family, I dedicated myself to writing (and rewriting) my fantasy-festooned holiday story, which is appropriately (and cleverly) named, "Twas the Knights Before Christmas."

And So, I Wrote My First Children's Book, "Twas the Knights Before Christmas"

Over the past year, I’ve delved the depths of self-publishing, meddled in marketing, and composed contracts with artists in order to make my fantasy book a reality. And now, following a year’s expense of blood, sweat, and SO MANY tears, I can finally announce the publication of my amazing storybook!

Quest complete: not only did I prove victorious in producing the perfect kids book that’s both educational and fun, but I also have this new Christmas book to share with my family. And your ! And families worldwide! And random Facebook friends too!! *hint-hint nudge-nudge*

And now, for a limited-time only, and only for Now Loading heroes...

I'm Giving Away A Free Copy of My Book To Now Loading Readers!

It is with great pleasure that I present you with a free copy of Twas the Knights Before Christmas! It's SUPER high-rez (170 MB!!) but I also have a smaller version (50 MB) that's much kinder to cellular data downloads.

But since I can't just sling freebie-book links around all willy-nilly, I'll message you the link to the secret location where you'll find your Christmas adventure full of storylines that rhyme.

'Tis the season for freebies...but only for a limited time :D

I sincerely hope my book brings you as much joy as it has brought me and my family. Although my father is gone and I’ll never again see his smiling face, I know my dad would be so proud of me for rekindling the spirit of Christmas within our family—it’s the only thing I’ve asked Santa Claus for since the funeral.

I can't wait for you to read my book—yule love it! But even if my story fails to sell 100 copies, the greatest triumph my book has brought me is seeing my mom smile once more.

Wishing you & your family endless holiday delight, and a Merry Christmas to all, and to all the good Knights!

~ Lauren “Braven” Blanset

…but hey, seriously though: selling a BUNCH of books would be dope. It’ll quell my fears of failure and maybe spiders while justifying my newfound & full-time quest to make kids books badass. But without saying ‘badass’ cuz that’s a 'bad' word.


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