Fluegar and the Magic Thistle


While going through a collection of some of my old writings, I came across this piece I wrote when I was 11 years old.  It is only one chapter and I don’t remember where I was going with it or what inspired me to write it.  I did find it an interesting insight into my mind at the time.  Do any of you still have stories lying around that you wrote as a child?  Can you see any correlations between fiction and the reality at the time?

***

The evening shower came to an end.

A young woodpecker hopped along the edge of the rocks, his dark eyes darting about as he peered into the mountain stream.  Excitement rippled from his throat as two silvery creatures swam near the surface, flashed their rainbow colors, then disappeared into the murky shadows.

“Fluegar?  Fluegar, where are you?”

“I’m over here, Mama!  Come look at the swimmers.  They’re super fast.”

“Oh, honey,” Mama said, “how many times have I asked you not to come down here by yourself?”

“Ah, shucks, Mama, I’m all right.  Look at me.”  Fluegar spread his small wings and puffed his feathers.  “See, I’m a big boy.  Why, I could scare off the largest fox by giving him the old one, two.”

Mama stifled her laughter as her young son snaked his neck down and walked towards her, flapping his wings.

“Oh, my,” she said. “I see what you mean.  If I were a fox, I’d be very afraid.  Nonetheless, I’d like you to stay close to home until you get a bit bigger, okay?  Now come along.  It’ll be dark soon and we have to go to bed.  You know what Grandpa says about the early bird.”

“Early bird, smirly bird.”  Fluegar folded his wings across his chest and strutted up the embankment.  “I hate waking up when old fatty Brewster crows.  It’s not natural to get up that early.”

“Fluegar, what did I tell you about saying nice things?”

“Ah, Mama, you know I’m right.  All he does is eat and sleep until it’s time for the rest of us to get some shut-eye and then he perches up on Farmer Trapp’s fence post and cock-a-doodle doos at the sun, like the sun gives a hoot.  Heck, if Mr. Sun could hear him, I’m sure he’d get pretty mad at being woken up with all that racket, too.”

Mama shook her head and chuckled.  “My, my, you are full of opinions tonight.  I think you need to get home so you can put some of them to bed.  Now, come on.  Let’s fly the rest of the way home.  You know how.”

Fluegar watched Mama fly toward the big elm that stood proud and tall at the corner of Old Orchard Road and Farmer Trapp’s gravel driveway.  They shared the tree with several families:  the Robins, the Jays and the Chippers, a family of acrobatic squirrels who kept everyone amused for hours with their death-defying leaps and antics.  Through the tall grass, he could make out Baxter the Boxer curled up in a ball on the front porch of the old farmhouse.  Lying in one of the downstairs windows was Princess, Mrs. Farmer Trapp’s gargantuan white cat.  Princess never went outside, which was a good thing according to his folks, ’cause birds were allergic to cats.

Caught up in a daydream, Fluegar hopped toward home.  He hadn’t gone far when a rat came scuttling out of nowhere and ran into him, flipping him head over heels and tumbling into a rock.

“Hey.  Whatcha’ go do that for?”  Fluegar picked himself up and preened his feathers.

“I’m so sorry,” the rat said, running frantic circles around Fluegar.  “Should have watched where I was going.  Oh, my.  I have to warn the others.  I have to tell everyone that they’re coming.”

“Who’s coming?” Fluegar asked.

The rat stopped, raised his pointy nose, listened and said, “The goblins.”

“Goblins?  What’s goblins?”

“No time to answer.  Run.  Hide.”  The rat bounded away through the grass.

“Fluegar?”

The little woodpecker startled at the familiar deep voice.  He gulped and looked up into his father’s black and white mottled face set beneath a crown of red feathers.  He hadn’t even heard his father approach.

“Didn’t you hear your mother?  It’s time to stop exploring and come home.”

“I was, Dad, it’s just . . . well, you see, this psycho rat ran into me blabbing about goblins coming and how we all had to run for our lives and hide.”

“Son—”

“It’s true, Dad, cross my heart.  What’s a goblin, anyway?”

His father looked into the distance.  “A dead race vanquished long ago by the great wizard, Thistle.”

“So if they’re gone, why did the rat say they were coming?”

Fluegar’s father stared down at him, his face stern.  “Why are you talking and listening to strangers when you’re not supposed to?”

“It’s kind of hard not to when they run into you and knock you down.”

“All the more reason you shouldn’t be out here all alone.”

“I’m not a baby, Dad.  I can take care of myself.”

“I’ll be the judge of that.  You’re still too little to be on your own.  Now let’s go home.  I’ll race you.”

A smile settled on Fluegar’s face. “You’re on, Dad.  Hope you’re prepared to lose!”

He lowered his head and spread his wings.  After a running start, he found himself airborne, hovering just above the grass, his dad soaring high above him.  Fluegar stretched his neck, elongating his body, and flapped with all his strength.  Up, up, up he went, soaring slightly ahead of his dad.  He glanced behind him.

“I’m beating you, Dad.  You’d better hurry.”

“Son!  Watch where you’re going.  Pull up!””

“What?”

“Pull up!”

Fwwump!

Fluegar smacked head on into the elm, bounced off and plummeted to the ground.  He lay there for a moment before getting to his feet, dazed.  His dad landed next to him and laughed.

“Heh, heh, my little Flying Ace.  Stand up here and let me have a look at you.”

Fluegar shook the stars from his head.  “Am I going to live, Dad?”

“Yeah, I think you’re going to make it another day.  I don’t see anything broken, but I’m not quite sure what to do about this?”  He plucked a feather from Fluegar’s head.

“Ow!  You don’t know what to do about what?”

“This.”

Fluegar’s eyes grew big, a grin stretched across his beak.  “My first red feather!  I got my first red feather!”  Fluegar hopped to his feet and danced around.   “Oh, goodie, goodie.  Now my stupid brothers can’t make fun of me anymore.”

“Don’t call Malley and Deek stupid, Son.  It’s not polite.”

“Sorry, Dad.  Ooo, I gotta show Mama.  Can we hop the rest of the way home?  It’s just up the trunk.  Besides, my wings feel a little sore.”

“You didn’t hurt your wings.”

“It’s a precaution, Dad, you know, just in case.  You wouldn’t want me to not be able to use them at all, would you?”

Dad rolled his eyes.  “Oh, all right.  But this time only.  Now scoot.”

They climbed the tree and popped through the hole into the living room.  Fluegar ran to his mother.

“Mama, look!  My first red feather!  I’m getting big, huh.”

“And uglier, too,” his brothers said in unison.

“Deek.  Malley.  Enough,” Mama said.  She looked back at her youngest son.  “Yes, sweetheart, you are getting bigger every day.  Soon, you’ll be a big, strong woodpecker like your father.”

“Yeah, but Dad doesn’t crash into trees,” Deek said, drawing a belly laugh from Malley.

“Leave me alone, you big bullies,” Fluegar said.  “It hurt.”

“Well,” Deek answered, “if you were paying attention…”

“Maybe his eyesight’s bad, too,” said Malley.

“Boys, that’s enough.  Now eat your worms and get ready for bed.  Then you both can take Fluegar to his new room I pecked out for him today.”

The three youngsters grumbled, ate their worm dinner, and then fought their way into a line to say goodnight to their parents.

“Baby’s last,” Deek said.

“Yeah,” Malley echoed, pushing Fluegar to the back.

“Now, now.  No fighting boys,” Mama said, pecking each of her sons on the top of their heads.  “Sweet dreams.”

“Good night, Mama,” said Fluegar as he followed his brothers upstairs.

“Good night, brat,” said Malley, nudging Fluegar into his new room.

“I’m not a brat.”

“Are too.  The babies in the family are always brats.”

“I’m not a baby.”

“You’re the last one hatched, that makes you the baby.”

“But I have a red feather.  I’m big now.”

“You’re still the baby.  Mama’s little boy.”

“And you’re ugly, too!”  Deek chimed in, his head poked in the doorway.

The two brothers laughed, gave each other pecks, and headed off to their rooms.

Fluegar hung his head and hopped into his cotton-lined twig bed. Tears dripped from his beak.  Outside, the last bit of daylight vanished behind the mountains.

“Hey, Fluegar,” the voice whispered from the window.

Fluegar turned around and buried his head beneath his wing.  “Go away.”

“Ah, come on, Fluegar, it’s me, Skipper.  Don’t tell me you’re down again.  What’cha crying about now?”

The youngest member of the Chipper family scurried into Fluegar’s room, his tail bushed out behind him.  He sat back on his hind legs and gave Fluegar a nudge.

“Stop it, Skipper.  Leave me alone.”

“Nope.  No can do.  Friends don’t let friends cry alone.  Now tell me what’s wrong or I’ll have to start crying, too.  Here is comes.  Ah.  Ah.”

“Okay, Okay!”  Fluegar sat up.  “If you have to know, I’m tired of everyone making fun of me, especially Deek and Malley.  They’re my brothers.  Why do they have to be mean?”

Skipper washed his face with his paws and twitched his nose. “Are you still hung up on that?  How many times do I have to tell you, Fluegar?  They’re not being mean.  They’re being brothers.  It’s what they do.  Pops says it makes us stronger, prepares us for the real world.  Makes us tough.”

“Yeah?  Well all it makes me want to do is run away.”

“Really?”  A wide smile settled on Skipper’s face. He hopped over to Fluegar’s bed and sat down.  “Where do you want to go?”

Fluegar sat up and shrugged.  “I don’t know.  The apple orchard?”

“Are you joking?” Skipper said.  “Of all the places in the world to go, you want to camp out next door?  Where’s your sense of adventure?”

Fluegar stared at his feet.  After a few moments he said, “I supposed I could try to find the goblins.”

Skipper’s ears perked up.  “Goblins?  What are goblins?”

Fluegar shook his head. “I don’t know. Dad said a Thistle person killed them a long time ago, but this rat told me they were coming and we all needed to hide.”

Skipper rubbed his paws together.  “Ooo, now this sounds like fun.”  He scampered to the window.  “Come on.  Let’s go.”

Fluegar’s eyes widened.  “Now?  You want to go out there in the dark?”

“Why not?”  A wry smile appeared on Skipper’s face.  “You’re not scared are you?”

Fluegar thought of his brothers’ mocking laughter and scowled.  “No.”

Skipper perched on the sill, his bushy tail fanned over his back.  “Then let’s go.  Let’s hunt some goblins.  I promise we’ll be back before sunrise.  Come on.”  Skipper bounded down the tree.

Fluegar stood at the window and glanced behind him at the safety of his room.  You should leave a note.

He plucked a writing tablet from the night stand and tapped a message with his beak:

Gone to find the goblins.  Will be back by sunrise.

He placed the tablet on the center of his bed and whispered, “I’m not a baby.  You’ll see.”

With a quick turn he hopped to the window sill, spread his wings, and soared into the moonlight.

Wet Nose


As a pet lover, I had to share the following story.  It may or may not be true, I haven’t checked, but the story is so well written and touching I have to share.  A friend of mine shared it on her Facebook page.  It’s linked back to another Facebook page called Wet Nose, “a pawtique focused on the health & well being of your 4-legged kids.”

The story below appears here on Facebook.  Many of you, however, don’t have a Facebook account, so I’m sharing it with you on my blog.  Have a tissue box handy.

***

This is a great story…worth reading.

They told me the big black Lab’s name was Reggie, as I looked at him lying in his pen. The shelter was clean, no-kill, and the people really friendly. I’d only been in the area for six months, but everywhere I went in the small college town, people were welcoming and open. Everyone waves when you pass them on the street.

But something was still missing as I attempted to settle in to my new life here, and I thought a dog couldn’t hurt. Give me someone to talk to. And I had just seen Reggie’s advertisement on the local news. The shelter said they had received numerous calls right after, but they said the people who had come down to see him just didn’t look like “Lab people,” whatever that meant. They must’ve thought I did.

But at first, I thought the shelter had misjudged me in giving me Reggie and his things, which consisted of a dog pad, bag of toys almost all of which were brand new tennis balls, his dishes and a sealed letter from his previous owner.

See, Reggie and I didn’t really hit it off when we got home. We struggled for two weeks (which is how long the shelter told me to give him to adjust to his new home). Maybe it was the fact that I was trying to adjust, too.  Maybe we were too much alike.

I saw the sealed envelope. I had completely forgotten about that. “Okay, Reggie,” I said out loud, “let’s see if your previous owner has any advice.”
____________ _________ _________ _________

To Whomever Gets My Dog:

Well, I can’t say that I’m happy you’re reading this, a letter I told the shelter could only be opened by Reggie’s new owner. I’m not even happy writing it. He knew something was different.

So let me tell you about my Lab in the hopes that it will help you bond with him and he with you.

First, he loves tennis balls. The more the merrier. Sometimes I think he’s part squirrel, the way he hoards them. He usually always has two in his mouth, and he tries to get a third in there. Hasn’t done it yet. Doesn’t matter where you throw them, he’ll bound after them, so be careful. Don’t do it by any roads.

Next, commands. Reggie knows the obvious ones —“sit,” “stay,” “come,” “heel.”

He knows hand signals, too: He knows “ball” and “food” and “bone” and “treat” like nobody’s business.

Feeding schedule: twice a day, regular store-bought stuff; the shelter has the brand.

He’s up on his shots. Be forewarned: Reggie hates the vet. Good luck getting him in the car. I don’t know how he knows when it’s time to go to the vet, but he knows.

Finally, give him some time. It’s only been Reggie and me for his whole life. He’s gone everywhere with me, so please include him on your daily car rides if you can. He sits well in the backseat, and he doesn’t bark or complain. He just loves to be around people, and me most especially.

And that’s why I need to share one more bit of info with you…His name’s not Reggie. He’s a smart dog, he’ll get used to it and will respond to it, of that I have no doubt. But I just couldn’t bear to give them his real name. But if someone is reading this … well it means that his new owner should know his real name. His real name is “Tank.” Because, that is what I drive.

I told the shelter that they couldn’t make “Reggie” available for adoption until they received word from my company commander. You see, my parents are gone, I have no siblings, no one I could’ve left Tank with .. and it was my only real request of the Army upon my deployment to Iraq, that they make one phone call to the shelter … in the “event” … to tell them that Tank could be put up for adoption. Luckily, my CO is a dog-guy, too, and he knew where my platoon was headed. He said he’d do it personally. And if you’re reading this, then he made good on his word.

Tank has been my family for the last six years, almost as long as the Army has been my family. And now I hope and pray that you make him part of your family, too, and that he will adjust and come to love you the same way he
loved me.

If I have to give up Tank to keep those terrible people from coming to the US I am glad to have done so. He is my example of service and of love. I hope I honored him by my service to my country and comrades.

All right, that’s enough. I deploy this evening and have to drop this letter off at the shelter. Maybe I’ll peek in on him and see if he finally got that third tennis ball in his mouth.

Good luck with Tank. Give him a good home, and give him an extra kiss goodnight – every night – from me.

Thank you,

Paul Mallory
____________ _________ _________ _______

I folded the letter and slipped it back in the envelope. Sure, I had heard of Paul Mallory, everyone in town knew him, even new people like me. Local kid, killed in Iraq a few months ago and posthumously earning the Silver Star when he gave his life to save three buddies. Flags had been at half-mast all summer.

I leaned forward in my chair and rested my elbows on my knees, staring at the dog.

“Hey, Tank,” I said quietly.

The dog’s head whipped up, his ears cocked and his eyes bright.

“C’mere boy.”

He was instantly on his feet, his nails clicking on the hardwood floor. He sat in front of me, his head tilted, searching for the name he hadn’t heard in months. “Tank,” I whispered.

His tail swished.

I kept whispering his name, over and over, and each time, his ears lowered, his eyes softened, and his posture relaxed as a wave of contentment just seemed to flood him. I stroked his ears, rubbed his shoulders, buried my face into his scruff and hugged him.

“It’s me now, Tank, just you and me. Your old pal gave you to me.” Tank reached up and licked my cheek.

“So whatdaya say we play some ball?” His ears perked again.

“Yeah? Ball? You like that? Ball?”

Tank tore from my hands and disappeared into the next room. And when he came back, he had three tennis balls in his mouth.

***

Wetnose website:  http://www.wetnose.com 

Wildflowers Blog Tour – Guest Post by author Sally Stephenson


I have a very special guest today, author Sally Stephenson.

I met Sally while participating in the TRINITY blog tour for Clare Davidson.  After speaking with Sally, I happily agreed to let her take over my blog today as part of her WILDFLOWERS blog tour.  So take it away, Sally. Info about her book appears after  her post.

I had graduated from university in 2011 and was beginning to contemplate applying to do a MFA in Creative Writing in America. Part of the application pack required a 30 page sample of writing and at the time I didn’t have anything I could submit. I thought about a war novel and began to write. Originally it was a same-sex relationship and I couldn’t get it to work. I then attended the Pride Parade in Leeds on August 5th 2011 and heard a speech being given by the mayor who spoke about homosexuals being persecuted during WWII and I had never heard that side of history before. I did more research on it and suddenly had my story. originally however, I had made Edith and Helena women who were in their thirties and it didn’t work. Inspired then by Boy in the Striped Pyjamas I made the characters younger but it seemed like too much of a copy so I aged them again to seventeen and it seemed to work. I wanted to write a LGBT book because it felt like I could make the characters real, I knew how to write gay characters a lot better than straight characters and I believed in their relationship a lot more than the straight relationship that I was trying to create. I wrote it because of this aspect, because I wanted to write about relationships that don’t get written about a lot or ones that don’t really appear in mainstream fiction and I thought the idea was unique enough to perhaps be a success. I ended publishing the book a year to the day of getting the idea, I ended up not applying to do a MFA and I did have a couple of agents express interest but self publishing seems to be working at the moment.

With my main characters I molded some of them on my own attributes – both girls are bookish, Edith is a little awkward and shy. She dotes on her father as I did with mine and she always wants the best outcome in a situation. Helena is stronger, she possesses the strength I wish I had and people say they’ve seen (I’m not sure I believe them!) but she’s a little gutsier. She also goes with the motions and doesn’t really think ahead – another little trait of mine! With their mothers I wanted to use female figures that I aspire to or who I find to be role models. I admire older women who are strong and believe in what they’re doing, I also admire women who are soft-natured towards their children and make great mums and so that’s what I wanted to put into my mother characters – this is seen particularly in Frau Heulmannd.

Some fun facts about me:

  • I’ve lived in five countries (UK, Australia, America, Thailand and New Zealand)
  • I know how to say hello in over ten languages
  • I can make a group of 50 Thai kids perform a singing contest using very few commands in English
  • I hated high school and would try not to go whenever possible – instead of becoming a juvenile delinquent I would read obsessively and write obsessively. I remember writing instead of studying for my GCSE’s! (Not something I’m recommending btw!)
  • In one of my GCSE exams I wrote as an answer that pigeons didn’t have ears. To this day I haven’t been proven wrong!

From Goodreads:  During the Second World War, 100,000 Germans were killed due to their sexuality. As the death toll begins at the start of the War, Edith and Helena must not only come to terms with their sexuality but decide whether to fight Hitler’s new regime or live a lie in order to survive.

You can find Sally hanging out at the following social media sites:

Twitter: @WriterSally
Thanks for stopping by, Sally!  It was a joy to have you on my blog.

And the marketing begins


I cannot believe the MAKE BELIEVE anthology releases 90 days from today.  It just boggles my mind.  What boggles my mind even more is the amount of marketing that needs to be done.

I have never been one for tooting my own horn so all of this is so new and foreign to me.  It seems so selfish, so egotistical to say ‘Hey, hey, check out my book and please buy it.”  I’m much more comfortable promoting other people’s books and touting their successes.  That’s not to say I don’t believe in my work or that I’m not proud of it. It’s just weird to put myself in the spotlight.

Which is why I’m asking YOU, my lovely fellow bloggers, to put me (and all the other amazing authors appearing in the anthology, if you would like) in YOUR spotlight.  🙂  I don’t bite, at least not hard, and I never leave marks.  I also would love to get my feet wet with a blog tour.

If you have participated in a blog tour, either as host or author, I would love to hear from you with pointers about what you learned and how to make the event run smoothly.  What would you have done differently if you could have?

For those interested in hosting the blog tour, I put a huge page on my website and would love for you to check it out under the News and Events page.

As I am not one to abuse a favor, if you are a YA and/or Fantasy author who would like to trade promotional efforts, I’m all game.  I’ve done author interviews, character interviews, and book reviews on blog tours, and I’ll be more than happy to help you get the word out about your novel or short story.

What do you say?  Up for the adventure?

Six Sentence Sunday


As usual, I always forget to sign up for Six Sentence Sunday.  I’m going to have to put a note on my pc to remind me.

Anyway, the following are from my second novel in the Chronicles of Fallhollow series.  Yes, I have a title, and no, I’m not sharing it right now.  🙂

A little background…David and Charlotte have left the medieval-esque realm of Fallhollow and have returned to Havendale, Tennessee with their squire friend, Eric. Until now, Eric never knew other worlds existed, much less the objects within them.  I hope you enjoy.

“You cannot expect me to get into that-that—”

“It’s a Mustang, and you will get in if I have to throw you in myself.”  David turned the key in the ignition; the beast of machinery roared to life.

“Come on, Eric,” Charlotte said, opening the door. “You’re going to love it.  There’s 650 horses in this baby.”

“That’s impossible!” Eric said, his eyes wide.

Ooops!  I threw in an extra sentence.  Oh well.  🙂

Enjoy your weekend!