Six Sentence Sunday


Today I’m offering up a sampling from a middle grade short story I wrote called Mrs. Billing’s Long Vacation.  I hope you enjoy.

***

It had snowed the night before and all morning — not too heavy, but enough to make driving hazardous and the kids cantankerous, at least that’s what mom said as we loaded up in the old station wagon.  When I arrived at school, the heaters were moaning and groaning, the classrooms were about as warm as glaciers, and the sun decided to take the day off.  By the time I got to my third period Science class, I felt like a popsicle stuck to the inside of a down coat.

Mr. Windem canceled his normal class lecture and shuffled us all to the pocket of warmth in the rear of the classroom, where he gave us slides of bugs to look at under magnifying glasses and microscopes. My slide consisted of an unusual bug, a fire beetle, which I soon learned was the brightest, bioluminescent insect in the world. It was also the source of my expulsion from Meadowlark Elementary.

Did you figure it out?


Yesterday I posted the following riddle:

How is a cat different from a comma?

Today, I get to pick a random person who wanted to play the game so he/she could guess the answer.  If that person gets it right, he/she wins a signed MAKE BELIEVE bookmark.   The only thing I asked is the person not cheat and look up the answer.  I have to trust that you didn’t.  Ok.  so who will be the first lucky contestant?

Hmm, let me dig around here in my hat full of names…and the 1st contestant is…

Vanessa Chapman

What say you, Vanessa?

Friday #Riddle


Who here likes riddles?  I know I do.  Ever since I read Alice in Wonderland, I’ve been fascinated by them.  Why is a raven is like a writing desk?

I don’t know if it’s true, but I read once that Lewis Carroll didn’t have an answer for that riddle, but he knew it would make children think to the point of frustration.  Eventually, they would accept it had no answer, like many things in life, and move on.

As children, we loved showing off our intelligence to others by telling riddles.  Do you remember these from your youth?

What is black and white and read all over?  (a newspaper).

What can travel around the world while staying in a corner?  (a stamp)

If there are three cups of sugar and you take away one, how many do you have? (just the one you took away).

Studies have shown that solving riddles and logic problems, as well as playing matching games, increases brain function and may help to prevent, or at the very least, lessen the effects of Alzheimer’s and other debilitating mental maladies as we age. I’m all for that. Anything that can help me remember where I put my keys rates high on my list.

So are you ready for the first ever Friday Riddle game?  Here goes.

How is a cat different from a comma?

I’m going to ask you to be honest and not use the internet to find the answer.  Remember, the whole point is to use the noggin.  If you think you know the answer, leave a comment below, but don’t include the answer.  On Saturday, I will randomly select a name and ask you to provide your answer.  If you get it right, I’ll send you a signed MAKE BELIEVE bookmark.

If you get it wrong, I’ll continue picking names until someone answers correctly.  Sound fun?

Okay, so have at it and have a Happy Friday!

Thursday Thought ~ The Importance of Correct Spelling


How many times have you picked up a novel and found a misspelled word right away?  How many times did you find another on page 20 and more on pages 31 and 32?  How many times did you start a novel only to put it down because the text, punctuation and grammar were all wrong?

I’ve started quite a few novels (sadly, most of them were self-published) that made my skin crawl and my brain hurt.  How could authors, who want to be taken seriously, not edit their novels?

As a beta-reader, it is my job to point out grammar mistakes.  Sometimes, especially with new writers, they gasp and say something like, “I don’t understand.  I used spell check.”

As an author, I’m here to say, spell check is nice, but you can’t rely on it.  There are so many words in the English language that sound the same but spelled differently (their/there), and spell check doesn’t catch them all the time.  It also doesn’t catch transposed letters.  For instance, you may have tried to write “won” but you wrote “own” instead.  Or you wrote ‘thread’, not ‘tread’.  Spell check won’t pick up on these mistakes.

Consider the following examples:

  • Many people believe he worships  Satin. (I think the word is “Satan”)
  • Placing big dames in the Mississippi River may prevent flooding.  (perhaps, but doing so may cause drownings instead)
  • The mom clutched her toe-headed son to her side. (poor kid has a toe for a head.  I think the word is tow-headed)

It is amazing how one little, misspelled word can change the entire meaning of a sentence.

It’s also important to make sure you catch your misspelled words if you are advertising yourself as an authority.  Take the follow example from a business card:

Inferior Fashion Decor

Not exactly a great selling point…unless you’re looking for ‘inferior’ solutions.

What it boils down to, if you want to be taken seriously in your field, whatever it is, your words, at some point, will speak for you.  When they do, make sure they are the right ones.  Remember, the pen is mighty, so take the time to edit.  The fulfillment of your dreams may depend upon it.

Wednesday reflections: review of THE SEARCH, a short story by Susan Leigh Noble


From Goodreads:  For over a thousand years, telepathic cats known as STACs have faithfully searched for those with power over the elements looking for the one foretold to save the Land. None have questioned their duty to fulfill this ancient task.

But when Tosh’s latest charge is murdered because of his Elemental powers, Tosh considers abandoning The Search. Will a glimpse of the future destruction be enough to change his mind?

Review:

A few days ago I had the extreme pleasure of reading the short story “The Search” by Susan Leigh Noble.  Susan approached me through the World Literary Café, and asked if I would be kind enough to do a review for her.  Seeing as her story was a YA fantasy, how could I turn her down?

Let me say I really, really enjoyed the story.  It is a perfect story to introduce young readers to fantasy.  It wasn’t difficult to read, and in no way insults the reader.

What I didn’t like about The Search

I felt it lacked a definitive ending.  I prefer short stories that follow a standard story line:  meet main character, discover his plight, experience the conflicts, and resolve the problems.  The Search fulfills all of them except for the last.  There isn’t a firm resolution.  The story isn’t ‘wrapped up’.  Rather it sets up the next short story in the trilogy.  While this is perfectly acceptable to do, I was expecting a stand alone. This isn’t bad; just not what I was expecting.

My second minor niggle is the story starts off at a breath-taking pace only to fall more into a quiet third person omniscient narrative.  I was expecting more action, but none came that matched the opening scene.  While this isn’t a bad thing, I felt slightly let down that the rest of the story didn’t keep up with the same pace as the opening.

What I loved about The Search.

The Search is an original story.  The main character, Tosh, is a cat, but not any type of cat.  He’s a STAC, a breed of telepathic cats determined to find the foretold Elemental – a human with extraordinary magical powers capable of saving The Land.  While the theme is common throughout fantasy stories, the fact that the lead character is a telepathic cat is unique.  Ms. Noble perfectly captures the essence of cat-dom and excels in portraying her protagonist with clarity, wisdom and humor.  The reader almost forgets the protagonist is a cat until he stretches or purrs or swishes his tail.  I am equally impressed with the other characters in The Search, from the wolves, to a sweet three-year old girl, to the wonderful Jonah Glade who rescues Tosh from a terrible, unfortunate incident.  They are well thought out, none are extraneous, and their appearances all help Tosh decide what he wants and move forward in his personal quest.

The setting, the world in which we travel, is well laid out and easy to imagine.  In most cases, the journeys take weeks, not days.  There are thick forests, poor villages, posh towns, rushing rivers, blight, and danger lurking around every turn.  We can smell the air, touch the earth.  Every sense is awakened.  Tosh’s trek is not an easy one and we feel every bruise, every sore paw and muscle as we tarry alongside him.

The plot is well thought out and carefully constructed.  We begin the story with Tosh and his charge, Nolan, an Elemental, fleeing from some men that Nolan angered.  Nolan is soon murdered, leaving Tosh alone.  Tosh must set out on another search for another Elemental with the powers to save The Land, but Tosh is torn between taking on another charge or settling down and living the easy life of a cat.  There is a lot of internal conflict as well as external and plenty of factors that could sway him to go either way.

Ms. Noble has a wonderful way with words that allows the reader to suspend belief.  Never for a moment did I think “We have a talking cat.  Cats can’t talk.’  Tosh’s journey, his internal conflict, his humor, his fears, all resonated deep within me.  I felt his agony, his torment, his sorrow, his joys.  I felt like I was right there with him the whole way.

I would highly recommend this short story for everyone, but especially for young readers who are not quite sure if they are interested in the fantasy genre.  For those already fond of the genre, you will find the story both heart-warming, entertaining and an easy, relaxing read.  If you like stories narrated in a fairy tale style, The Search is for you.  I definitely want to find out what happens to Tosh so I will also continue on with the next short story in the series, the Summoned.

I give this short story a solid 4 stars.  It would have been five had it had a solid resolution in the end instead of a set up for the next story in the trilogy.  Again, the ending wasn’t bad; I simply prefer closure in a short story.

***

susannoble.JPGSusan Leigh Noble has always loved to read. She has been writing since childhood – anything from poetry, short stories, news articles and finally full length fantasy novels. She has always loved dragons, magic and cats so it is no wonder she put them all together in her “The Elemental” trilogy.

When she isn’t writing, Susan is an active volunteer in her neighborhood and at her children’s’ schools. She lives with her husband and two children in Texas.

Connect with Susan:

Blog:  http://www.susanleighnoble.wordpress.com/

Twitter: @SusanLeighNoble

Goodreads  

Amazon

Traveling Tuesday – where do you go to find inspiration for your writing?


How far do you travel to find inspiration for your writing?

If I had copious amounts of money, I would travel to Europe and visit as many castles and ruins as humanly possible, especially in Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and England.  As a child, I was lucky enough to visit Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany.  The experience has remained with me my entire life, not only because of the opulence and sheer beauty of the palace, but more importantly  because of the romantic tragedy surrounding it’s owner, King Ludwig II.  I would someday like to return to the castle and experience it through the eyes of an adult with the knowledge I’ve gained over the years about this “crazy” romantic “fairy-tale” king and his very suspicious death/suicide.

Until I gather the funds necessary for travel, I have to look closer to home for inspiration for my medieval-esque tales, and where better to look than at my local Renaissance Festival.

Every Spring, I try to attend “Ren Fest”, an enchanted realm of wizards and warriors amongst gourmet treats and unforgettable entertainment. Guests are encouraged to dress up in period clothes and wander around the ‘medieval’ town where jugglers, magicians, fire eaters and specialty acts perform.  One can experience live armored contact jousting, Human Chess Matches, strolling minstrels, maidens faire, peasants, fools, and Royalty.   The great thing is that Ren Fest is not limited to Florida.  There are Ren Fests all over the United States.   If you haven’t attended a Ren Fest, I urge you to go.  They are a lot of fun, you meet a lot of interesting people and you’ll come away feeling as if you’ve experienced something quite unique and entertaining.

Where have you traveled to get inspiration for your writing?

File:Bay Area Renaissance Festival, Tampa, Florida 2.jpg

Magical Monday – Enter: the Amethyst Dragon


Today I present to you the aloof, solitary, and self-centered Amethyst Dragon.

The most powerful of the neutral gem dragons, amethyst dragons are honorable, regal creatures. They inhabit the mountains of the northern islands, living on the shores of isolated lakes and pools. At birth, these dragons have lavender skin with fine, translucent-purple scales. These scales darken as the creature grows older, eventually reaching a sparkling lavender color.

These creatures approach life with a detached air, ignoring the conflicts of good and evil, law and chaos. At best, they see these conflicts as petty squabbles over inconsequential points of view, and not worthy of their time or consideration. These majestic dragons consider themselves to be the leaders of the gem dragons, and most of the lesser gem dragons acquiesce to this leadership – in everyday life and in the Council Aerie. While amethyst dragons consider their silver and copper cousins to be foolish and have an active dislike of red and white dragons, they do not consider any life form to be their inherent enemies. They prefer to reason out a settlement through discussion and negotiation rather than through combat, but they can and will fight if they must. Being honorable and noble, these dragons never hide or attempt to ambush foes. To them, even retreating is a dishonorable action, but they will flee if faced with certain death. Amethyst dragons eat large quantities of fish and gems. They keep vassals to attend to their needs, though they do not place as many restrictions or requirements on them as other dragon lords do. Most keep at least one hidden, underwater cave for seclusion and secrecy. Amethyst dragons approach mating in a very logical manner, seeking the optimum partner to produce the best offspring. Love and pleasure rarely, if ever, enter the equation.

They tend to be poor flyers but can burrow underground quite well.  Adult Amethyst dragons prefer to use invisibility to catch their opponents off-guard. Their breath weapon is a blast of concussive force. Additionally, once per day, Amethyst dragons may spit a crystalline lozenge which explodes on impact.

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This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors) and forgottenrealms.wikia.com (view authors).

Six Sentence Sunday


Here’s a snippet from the last chapter of my second book in the Chronicles of Fallhollow trilogy.  Funny, I wrote this entire chapter before I ever wrote a word on the first novel in the trilogy.  I hope you enjoy it.

David stood and bellowed, “Let him go!”

He drew his sword over his head, and lobbed it through the air with every ounce of energy he had left.  Einar roared as the weapon lodged deep into his hindquarters.  Ravenhawk tumbled from the dragon’s talons to the ground.  Sharpfeather and Windfox scrambled to his aid, their bows drawn. Others appeared through the fire and smoke with crossbows, axes and spears in hand.

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New Hobbit Trailer is here!


 

I normally don’t do two posts in one day, but have you all seen the new trailer for The Hobbit?

I have to say, Peter Jackson is a genius.  This film looks positively amazing.  I’m sure he took some poetic license with this film as he did with LOTR, but he is a brilliant man, and it’s really hard to believe, after watching the trailers, he had serious snags in the beginning with producing this film.  There is even talk of a 3-part trilogy to tell Bilbo’s tale.  What do you guys think?

here is the original trailer that came out 3 months ago.

For those unfamiliar with the story, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” follows Bilbo Baggins on his epic quest with 13 dwarves to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor.

Do you plan on seeing The Hobbit?  After seeing the trailers, what’s your enthusiasm level, with ‘1’ 🙂 being ‘eh’ to 5 🙂 being OMGosh, When can I buy tickets?

I’m at 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

 

Mother, 34, kills her two children, then kills herself


I saw on the local news this morning that a 34-year old mom killed her two kids, ages 5 and 9, then hung herself from a fan in a bedroom with an electrical chord.

What possesses a parent to kill their children?  In this case, it’s not postpartum depression  The kids are too old.  Obviously the mom wasn’t ‘well’, but how can a parent, especially a mom, look at her kids and kill them?  There is no way I could harm my kids, much less kill them.  Sure, maybe there were times I yelled at them when I shouldn’t have.  I know I wasn’t the best mom in the world all the time and some psychologist somewhere will probably say I damaged my kids in some way, shape or form, but I love my kids.  I would die to protect my kids.

What are your thoughts?  What is with the latest trend of moms killing their kids?  Sorry for the morbid thought but I actually started a fantasy novel a while back with this as a plot line, but couldn’t finish it because I couldn’t wrap my head around the mom actually killing her kid.  What would possess a parent to do something so horrific?

I would love you hear  your comments.