29 June 2012

Jurassic Park

by Michael Crichton

I remember when I saw JURASSIC PARK for the first time. I was enthralled. But was really stuck in my mind was that my mother was disappointed in the movie, because the book was better. I had no idea that it was based on a book. And that my mother had read it was also surprising at the time, now I am not so surprised because the JURASSIC PARK is written by Michael Crichton. Truthfully he is the kind of science fiction author I aspire to be. The books are not only about characters but science. His books make you realize that they could be true, even if they are considered science fiction at this point.

For any of you that have seen the movie, you know the basic plot line. A scientist has developed a way to extra dinosaur DNA from mosquitoes that were trapped in amber. The doctor invites a few other people as well as his grandchildren to come see his new park. Now the people are stranded on the island and the dinosaurs are running lose and killing people. What will surprise people most about the differences in the book are the characters. There are some significant differences between the movie and the book. And I like the book better.

This book has some language in it, and people do die, so it isn't for everyone. If you like the movie I recommend the book. There is so much more depth to everything and Crichton does an amazing job of bringing the world to life. Though it sounds like it is just focused on the aspect of surviving the dinosaurs, the book is full of science and is explained so well that it doesn't matter if you don't have a doctorate in biology or chemistry. The movie only scratches the surface as to what actually takes place on the island of Jurassic Park.

27 June 2012

Harmless Fun

Last week Moose and I went to a family reunion. It was for my mom's family. She has four siblings and all of them live in different states. Every two years they try and get together. It is always fun to see the aunts, uncles, and cousins. We all get along really well, but Moose and I decided to shake things up a bit. I need to give a little background to why we did what we did.

My maternal grandmother is an amazing woman. She is very service oriented and is always trying to offer support to those around her. Any of her grandchildren that went to USU knew they would always have a place to eat on Sunday. She also made enough food on Sunday to take to the neighbors across the street. It was like feeding a village at times and she has been doing it for years. She's still doing it.

She always knows who is in need of help, the reason being is she is a little nosy. She likes to know what is going on and has no qualms asking about someone. She also lets you know when she doesn't approve of what you are doing. It is true that she only tells you because she cares about you, but as a child all I understood was I never could seem to live up to her expectations. Now that I am older I understand. . . and I have fun with it.

I am the rebellious one. This weekend we dyed our hair. Bright red. I dyed the right side of his hair. I am really impressed that I managed to get the line so straight. I did a layer of red on top and then Moose did the tips of mine. My friend, Bluey, describes it best. It looks like the plant Indian Paintbrush. My grandmother hated it. Dying my hair is harmless and my grandmother reacts so well. This is probably the only time that she would've been alright with someone wearing a hat indoors since it was better than the alternative.

25 June 2012

A Character's Education

I love ENDER'S GAME, but it is a bad example of child characters. His characters are small adults. This works for his stories. He explains that the children are geniuses so I can accept the fact that they don't act like normal kids. This doesn't work for every series. I can understand in middle grade and juvenile that the children don't always have the luxury of being children, but that doesn't mean they should have all the experience that comes with growing up. They still need to make mistakes and develop. You can't have an average child who speaks like he graduated from Oxford (unless they did).

It is important to note that even adults can have a low education, if their circumstances are such. This is especially true in epic fantasies. There aren't many schools around when it comes to a medieval setting. Farm boys and girls have an education but it isn't typically book smarts. Their language and demeanor should show education level. You don't have to make your characters sound like complete idiots but once again they shouldn't be educated in everything. Give them street smarts.

24 June 2012

*Time to Spare

Intro: The ultimate game of memory.

Tristan looked up at the ceiling. Today he would ask for repair manuals. Three-thousand, two hundred, and seventeen dots covered the ceiling tiles. He'd known that for three years. It had taken four years give or take a year, to make sure he had counted correctly. He used the dots to keep track of the days. Living in the insane asylum was bad enough but living the same day over made any place a nightmare. The reason he was in the asylum was because no one believed that time repeated itself. Though no one called it an asylum. It was a home for those unable to live on their own.

The first time had been when he was a small boy. He didn't know how long it had lasted, expect that during the time he learned how to speak. The second time had been in elementary. Then twice in high school. And now, when he should have been in college, even graduating with a degree in social studies. Though he was only twenty-six, he calculated he lived twice that long. This latest freeze was the longest.

The bell rang. Four seconds later the door opened and the orderly walked in. The security men remained at the door. Tristan sat up and kept his hands on his knees. Any sudden movement earned him a punishment. And sudden meant any movement that was more than a foot away from his body. It was easy to test when all of the variables remained constant from day to day. When time picked back up, he was determined to keep testing. Tristan knew that the orderly's mindset would also determine what a sudden movement constituted.

After the orderly checked Tristan over, of all days to repeat it had to be the one that included his monthly physical, Tristan was escorted to the cafeteria. The one saving grace was because it was his physical the staff always fed the patient better. Instead of cold porridge, Tristan feasted on bacon, eggs, and waffles with syrup. Next was exercise. Tristan enjoyed running and spent the regulated hour on a track. The orderlies and security guards sat in the middle of the room and watched.

Nine steps past three and a quarter miles. Fight.

Some times Tristan watched. He'd been on both sides. He'd run back to his quarters. He'd run for more security. He'd done everything he could think of. Today he continued to run laps.

After five people were hospitalized, the other patients were escorted back to their rooms. Tristan now had five hours of solitary until the lockdown was lifted. Some times he cursed the silence, but today he reveled in it. Repeating days did not help his physical physique. He always woke up in the same condition. Extra hours at the weights did nothing, but that wasn't the same for his memory. He devoured books because it was the only aspect of his life that showed any progress. Getting books meant bribing the security, but his bribe never ran out, and it always worked.

Tristan leaned against the door and knocked. Softly the progressively louder.

The door opened after the fifteenth strike.

"What?"

Tristan held up the dirty magazine he'd invested in a couple of weeks earlier. "I need new reading material."

The guard eyed the glossy pages. "What did you have in mind?"

"I was hoping for some car repair manuals. I use to be ASE certified. I just want to make sure I'm not forgetting anything." Just learning the correct terminology had taken a few tries. Even now he knew he wouldn't fool a mechanic.

The man reached for the magazine. Tristan tossed it on his bed. The guard frowned and left. Half an hour later the exchange was made. Tristan laid out on his bed and read about combustion engines. Dinner came and the reading material was swapped back. Tristan's magazine was missing a few pages.

This was the crowning moment. He was fifth from the end to get food. He walked through the line at a medium slow pace. He ordered the most disgusting looking food he could. He counted to seven and walked out, just in time for a man in a suit to plow into him.

Tristan gave mild protests, for show, as he was dragged from the room after the now stained man. The man, a Mr. Figgerty, was an investor in the home. He stripped to the waist and tossed the ruined shirt at Tristan.

"Do you know how much this cost?"

Tristan held up the fabric, inspecting it. He rattled off the answer, careful not to be too accurate on the price. Mr. Figgery raised an eyebrow.

"And if I were to say the clothing was ruined?"

The questioning continued passing through clothing, onto taxation rates, to governments, countries, travel methods, airplanes, and finally to cars.

As Tristan tried not to stumble over the information regarding how the air conditioning fluids have changed over the years, R12 and R134-A, Mr. Figgerty sat down and regarded him. Never before had the man sat in Tristan's presence.

"Do you know what the chemical compound for these are?"

"As in H20?"

"That's water, but yes."

"Nope. You've got me there." Mr. Figgerty nodded in approval. "I always trust a man who gives an honest 'I don't know.' As the Oracle once told Socrates—"

"He is wise because he knows how little he knows."

The interrogation was over. Tristan was taken back to his room and he looked up at the tiles, mentally adding a tickmark to the impenetrable walls.

At seven Tristan opened his eyes. Today he would ask for a chemistry book. The bell rang. Four seconds later the door to his room opened.

22 June 2012

Icefall

by Matthew J. Kirby

I saw this book on the shelf and remembered hearing some of my favorite authors talk about it. I picked up it thinking I would get around to it because I have more free time that I use to. When I started this book I knew I was doomed. I wasn’t going to get anything accomplished. And I didn’t.

I was drawn into the world so fast and I really cared about the characters. I wanted to know what was going to happen to all the characters but Solveig, the main character, I really liked. Most of the time I get fed up with teenage, female protagonists because they are whiney. With Solveig I agreed when she complained and I really cheered for her. The other character I wasn't sure of at first was Hake. He is just not the kind of character I really thought would be more than brute strength and yet by the end I care more for him than any of the other guys in the story.

As to the story itself, it is a Nordic tale that draws you into the world of Norse mythology without requiring any prior knowledge. I was impressed with how Matthew Kirby was able to drop me into the society and feed me enough pieces to understand what was happening without actually drenching me in too much information. I kind of want there to be another one, but I am satisfied with the ending. I just want to spend more time with the characters.

20 June 2012

Misconceptions about Anime

I'm always looking for someone to share movies with. I have a new friend at work who said he was interested in seeing more anime. Moose and I have several seasons and I told him I would be willing to let him borrow some. He hadn't seen much so when I listed off a bunch he lept at Avatar: The Last Airbender. I shrugged and let him borrow it. He really enjoyed it. I decided that I would have him watch our favorite series, Gunslinger Girl. I explained that it was a little more violent. When I talked to him a few days later he explained that he wasn't as interested in Gunslinger Girl. It was a little more series than he expected. We went on to talk more about anime and I realized he thought anime was like Disney. So I am going to set a few things straight for people who don't know about anime.

Anime is traditionally Japanese animated television series and movies. Most of what is known are some of the more child friendly shows. Just because the show is animated does not mean it is suitable for children. There are plenty of anime that Moose and I won't watch because of mature nature. There are plenty of anime out there that are suitable for all ages. Anime covers a broad range of topics but they are typically darker and there are plenty that are more environmental in nature. If you are wondering if the anime is appropriate to watch there are plenty of websites out there with good information. The bottom line is that there is plenty of good anime out there as well as not as appropriate, but don't expect American cartoons either way.

18 June 2012

Pink is not Weak

There seems to be a trend that make female characters, especially in YA, in order to be strong they are more likely to be tomboys. I am guilty of this at times. Being feminine is not being weak. There is nothing wrong with heroines liking the color pink and wearing dresses.

There are times when having a tomboy character is very applicable, Kat from HUNGER GAMES. But I wish there were more female characters that were strong even as they wear pink or a dress. Being strong isn’t about physical strength, or tough attitude, or hating the color pink. It is about knowing what you want and going for it. There are times that women do need to be physically tough. One of my favorite examples of a strong female character is Miss Parker from THE PRETENDER television series. She is not a tomboy, by any stretch of the imagination. She is very feminine and yet you know she will get what she wants.

Next time you are writing a female character, especially a teenager, think for a moment if it would add more depth to your character to make them a tomboy who wears baggy jeans or if they are feminine. Keep in mind that feminine is not ditsy or prissy. Think of Jane Austen’s characters or even Katara and Suki from AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER. You don’t have to make an effort to point out that maybe they like shopping but you don’t have go out of the way to say they hate the color pink and wouldn’t be seen dead in a skirt.

17 June 2012

*Dark Side of the Moon

Intro: This is an idea that my husband and I bounced off of each other. Moose brought up the fact that there is an agreement that no nation can own the moon. But apparently there are some private corporations that want to mine the minerals. I have a feeling I will be doing more with this story.

The net, woven from hemp, burned my skin as I was dragged across the ground. I struggled against the bonds but they didn’t give. It earned me a kick from the slaver. I already knew that making a noise would earn a prod. Four was already more than enough. My muscles were still aching from the one an hour before. I couldn’t see where anyone else was. I heard a few whimpers and occasional screams.

They dragged me up a metal plank which burned my exposed skin. My clothes had been shredded when they chased me. The only positive about being inside was being in the shade, but that just meant I didn’t have to worry about the UV. It was still hot and stuffy. I didn’t mind living in the desert, so long as it meant I was moving from protective vehicle to protective building. Being fair skinned made living in Arizona a nightmare at times. Then again when my family lived in Oregon I burned, but there weren’t as many sunny days.

Laying, trapped in the net, I could see one other person. A girl. I couldn’t tell how old she was. If she was like me then she was older than she looked. I was small for my age. The boys were passing me up. Most people thought I was still ten, and that was being generous. The girl cracked open an eye and stared past me, her eyes hazy and unfocused.

“How many did we get?” This came from the man who had netted me.

“Between this catch and the one last week we have almost three dozen.”

“That isn’t enough.”

“It’s the best we can do. The shuttle leaves at dawn. We don’t have time for another attempt. We have to prep this group.”

Something clanged shut and the voices were ended. The floor vibrated under me. I think I drifted off but maybe it was just the pain from everything that had happened in the last few hours.

I was dragged out of the vehicle and into a cold, dark room. The net was cut, as well as my clothes. I couldn’t even cover myself before hands were poking and prodding. The man wore a mask and I couldn’t even see his eyes through the glass.

“How old are you?”

“Twelve.”

“That’s a good sign.”

After his hands left me blushing, shaking, and bruised. I was shuffled into the next room where another dozen people were. When I realized there were boys in there I realized I could feel worse. It didn’t matter that no one was looking at me. I wanted to die.

Four adults came into the room and cut our hair. The boys’ heads were buzzed, their hair half an inch long. Us girls had our trimmed so it was no longer than our ears, all the same length. Then came the cold water. I didn’t realize I could get any colder. When they handed me the drab clothes I pulled them on, never before had wool felt so soft.

We all shuffled into a new room where benches sat lined up.

A man stood at the front, his arms folded. “Everyone take a seat. No talking.”

I found myself between two girls. We sat with hands clasped, still shivering.

“All of you have been gathered for your unique abilities. You are now all hired by the Lunar Quarry. We expect complete obedience.” He motioned with his hand and two kids walked in. A boy and a girl. “These two will make sure that you understand the rules.”

When the man left, the two youths stared at us with dull eyes. I’d never seen anything look lifeless.

“It’s time to say good bye to earth,” the boy said.

“You’ll never see it again,” the girl finished.

“Don’t try to escape.”

“Or you die.”

“Obey every order.”

“Or you will die.”

“And don’t forget your oxygen,” the boy said.

They moved to sit in front of the room. Some boy leaned towards his neighbor. “But what are the rules?”

An adult moved out of the shadows and prodded the boy. I heard the sizzle from where I sat five rows back.

“No talking.”

I didn’t know how much time past. I couldn’t seem to look anyone but the boy who lay twitching on the ground. No one moved to help him. The man with the prod moved to the front of the room.

When I could no longer feel my butt and my throat felt like I had swallowed the Arizona desert we were moved through the door into another room. This one had seats that had us on our backs. More adults came through and they didn’t talk like the other adults, but the idea of the prod kept me from saying anything.

“Welcome. The flight to the moon will take roughly thirty-two hours. Let us know what you need and we will do our best to accommodate you.”

A hand tapped my shoulder. I looked up. The prod man. I, as well as all of the other children in the room, remained silent.

We walked down the gang plank to a spherical room. I stared at the Earth through the glass. We were all loaded into a truck and traveled across the gray landscape. There was only one place I knew we were going. The dark side of the moon where the mining camps existed. I was officially a minor miner. No one would hear from me again. I realized I had died the moment I was cut free from the net.

15 June 2012

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

by Robert C. O'Brien

I would like to say I actually read MRS. FRISBY AND THE RATS OF NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien when I was a child, but that isn’t true. I have heard about it for years, and I’ve seen the movie but it was until a couple of weeks ago that I read it. I loved it. It will be one that I read to my children. There is a very good reason why this story won a Newberry award. Though it is written for children between 8-12 it is suitable for all ages.

The movie THE SECRET OF NIMH does a fair representation of parts of the story but the novel is just that much better. The story follows Mrs. Frisby. She is a widowed mouse who has four small children. Her youngest son, Timothy takes ill with pneumonia, and she has to ask a friend of her late husband for help. Mr. Ages prescribes some medicine and tells her that Timothy can’t be moved. The only trouble is that they have to move because the farmer is going to till the field where they currently live. Mrs. Frisby is told to seek help from the rats that live in the rosebush. These are no ordinary rats and Mrs. Frisby learns that she didn’t know everything about her husband.

MRS. FRISBY AND THE RATS OF NIMH has some really pretty artwork done by Zena Bernstein. The settings depicted are quaint and give an added life to the story. I highly recommend this story for everyone, especially if you are looking for something for elementary students to enjoy. The characters are endearing and the plot is something that really makes you care about what happens to them. You want them to succeed but you don’t know how they are going to do it, which is all part of the fun.

13 June 2012

High School Reunion

This weekend we went to Moose’s high school reunion. He wasn’t sure he wanted to go but I told him he should at least go to one and then he can skip all of the others if he wants to. Neither Moose nor I participate in social media much. This blog is the extent of my forays and Moose doesn’t even do that. Neither of us have kept in contact with many people from high school. As Saturday drew closer I realized I was getting nervous. My own reunion will be next year, if they have one, and the more I thought about mine the more nervous I got for Moose’s. I mean what if people have all kinds of expectations and I don’t meet them. I had this irrational fear that when I showed up with Moose they were going to look at us and think “He settled low.” Before anyone leaps to tell me how wrong I am remember I said the fear was irrational.

In preparation for the reunion we submitted a picture and a little block of text. (You may get the idea of where this is going if you’ve read Sunday’s story.) I was just being funny and wrote in vague terms what was going on. Very short. Not really to the point. But it made Moose laugh when I read it to him. The picture we sent was from last year when Moose had grown his hair out. Moose has never had long hair before. It is usually short enough that he doesn’t even have to part it.

At the reunion we were sitting at a side table, because we weren’t having dinner, and some of Moose’s acquaintances came over. They talked to us for a bit and then the slide show started. The first slide was a cute family with a few sentences of overview. The slides got longer from there. Some of the slides had so much text that I couldn’t read it fast enough. The information covered everything. This is not a bad thing. If you haven’t seen friends for ten years there is a lot of information to cover. Trying to share that much information without being boastful is neigh impossible. I knew a few of the people but not many. As the show continued Moose and I realized we were looking forward to the his slide. No one else had a slide quite like it. When it popped up even the people sitting at our table were a little taken aback by the picture. There were a few laughs and then it switched. We left after the slide show and headed home. I honestly don’t know if we will be going to another one. (Though we’ve already planned the idea of Moose showing up with his hair long enough to be in a pony tail. Roughly 18 months of growing time.)

I may have a reunion next year and I am still nervous. I still have the irrational fear that when people see me they will think I haven’t accomplished anything. Which is ridiculous. Maybe I’ll dye my hair blue again. That could have some promise. And when people ask me what I do, I’ll tell them. “I do everything I can to be happy.”

11 June 2012

Adding Romance

I just finished reading a new YA book and once again I was bothered by the romantic plot line. It seems to me that the most common romance seen in YA today involves a love triangle. This does cause a lot of tension and can leave the readers guessing. But my own personal feeling is that it weakens the characters. I get tired of wishy-washy girls who can’t choose between two guys. That isn’t to say that there can’t be more than one guy involved, just that the girl only likes one at a time. There are plenty of other ways to add romantic tension. Think of the Jane Austen stories and how there are two men, Darcy and Wickham, but Jane doesn’t like both of them at the same time. Fairy tales are another good example of different romantic scenarios that don’t involve multiple parties but just two people.

I’m not saying that love triangles are always bad, but just think about how many love triangle are currently out there. It might be time to choose another romantic plot line to keep your audience from feeling like they’ve read the story before.

10 June 2012

*Reunion for Losers

Intro: We went to my husband's high school reunion. We were to submit a picture and a bit of text that explained what he had been up to. This is what I sent for him "Younker enjoys living in the middle of Nowhere. He works in a dungeon by himself and talks to his equipment. His wife is someone who knows if a story's worth telling it's worth exaggerating. They have never been happier." The other blurbs that people had written were nothing like this. I am glad that we wrote what we did.

“Did you send anything for the slideshow?” Mark asked.

“Nope, did you?” Steve said.

Mark shrugged his attention riveted to the screen.

The overloud music buzzed the speakers. A picture of a perfect family popped up. Paragraphs of text described every achievement in the last ten years. After the third slide the picture fizzled and the music died.

A new slide came into focus.

“High School Reunions, a time to paint pretty pictures of how you want people to view your life.”

“What no one here realizes is that we are at a reunion for losers.”

“Terry Matthew.”

A pictured came into focus. The long descriptive text talked about his accomplishment at medical school. A thick red X crossed through the text.

“What makes Terry a loser?”

“His dot com company failed in under a year. He declared bankruptcy. He works night shifts as a waiter at the cheapest diner in town.”

The slides continued to cycle through showing the truth in all the gritty details. Mark wasn’t smiling but he watched everyone else. He already knew what the slides said. Steve let out a strangled cry when his own information popped up.

After the last student had been shown the screen faded. The room was silent. No one made eye contact with each other. The screen flashed.

“Did anyone reach their goals?”

“We are all losers.”

Mark closed his eyes. The next slides would be the true test.

“Or are we?”

“Now that we know all the darkest secrets we don’t have to lie about our accomplishments.”

“Are you happy?”

“Then you aren’t really a loser.”

The slideshow ended and for a moment everyone sat in silence. Steve turned to Mark.

“Did you really get robbed last year?”

“Yep,” Mark replied.

“What did you do?”

“I ate Ramen and sold plasma until I could get back on my feet.”

“What do you do now?”

Mark smiled. “I illustrate children’s books.”

“I thought you liked science? You did all the science stuff in school.”

Mark shrugged. “My interests changed.”

“Are you happy?”

“Yep.”

Steve sat back in his chair. “Me too. Life’s good, isn’t it. Even though I didn’t become President of the United States. I own my own grocery store. I never thought I would enjoy it.”

08 June 2012

The Story of Ferdinand

by Munro Leaf

I remember my mother reading THE STORY OF FERDINAND to me when I was child. I don’t know what is really is that stuck with beyond the idea of a bull sitting and smelling the flowers. When I was in high school I took a child development class. For one of the days we actually got together in groups and taught the children in the day care. Each group was assigned a nursery rhyme and everything we did had to revolve around it. My group had Hey Diddle, Diddle. My job was to come up with a story that could be tied in. I came up with FERDINAND.

THE STORY OF FERDINAND is by Munro Leaf. It was written in 1936 and has been published around the world at this point. It is a cute little picture book about a bull named Ferdinand. Ferdinand isn’t a normal bull who likes to frolic in the grass, but he likes to sit under a tree and smell the flowers. When he grows up all of the other bulls dreams of going to the bull fighting rings in Madrid. Ferdinand likes to smell the flowers. When he is chosen to go to the bull fights none of the spectators are ready for what happens.

The story is cute and it has a good message about doing what makes you happy. I also really like the illustrations. The drawings, by Robert Lawson, have incredible detail that just bring the story to life. I highly recommend that you check out this book, especially if you have children and need a new story to read to them. Ferdinand will win their hearts.

06 June 2012

Book Update

My publisher, Brett Peterson, was interviews at CONduit by Residual Hauntings Revived. He talks about the publishing house, TM Publishing, LLC, as well as my book. Even though I have been working with my editor for the past couple of months, I still don’t think it really set in. Until today. I am really nervous. I guess my book is scheduled to come out late this year.

http://residualhauntings.podomatic.com/entry/2012-05-30T02_05_53-07_00 (Brett starts talking around 37:00. My book information is about 40:00.)

Eidolon
A society teeters between an energy source that causes more destruction the more it’s used and a coup d’├ętat. Is either choice right? Or will civilization be overrun by trees before a solution can be reached.

Eighth Day Genisis: A Worldbuilding Codex
This month also heralds a new anthology. This one is a non-fiction essay I wrote for a worldbuilding anthology. All of the essays are written for authors to help write more realistic settings when it comes to fantasy and science fiction. My essay is about incorporating technology that is both positive and negative. The book can be found here: http://alliterationink.com/store.html.

04 June 2012

Negative Critiques

I’ve had a lot of really good critiques that just left me feeling positive. There have been other critiques that just left me feeling frustrated. What follows is a critique that I received from a fellow writer. “Terrance” knew what he was talking about when it came to grammar. What I want people to understand is that the way the information is delivered could be a bit less abrupt and not all of the information was good. Since I felt like his critique didn’t help me in the long run, I thanked Terrance for his time, and then never asked him to review another story.

When you are critiquing: Even if you hate the story, never, ever rewrite the story. Give feedback on what you feel comfortable, or you can just explain to the author that it wouldn’t be a fair critique because your opinion is biased.

Once again, Terrance did give me good feedback. I was able to make some good changes, but there is some unnecessary criticism that he could have left out which is why I stopped using his services.

Edgar the Elephant

This is an interesting story, and would make an interesting picture book. However, as a parent I wouldn't buy it for my child. I want even picture books to be a bit realistic if they take place in this world.

Edgar the Elephant was depressed. Work was not going well.

The first assignment from work started smoothly enough. He picked up the package and began walking to Cambodia. The African scenery was beautiful as he trudged along.

One of his co-workers flew by. “Hey Edgar. Get a move on if you want the package to make it on time.” With a chirping chortle, he zipped off. Edgar didn’t let it bother him.

By moving at a consistent rate, he would get there eventually. At the coast of Somalia, he used his trunk to hold the previous (I am assuming the bundle is a baby. Therefore, should that last word be "precious" and not "previous"?) bundle while swimming. It was difficult but made the journey shorter. (After swimming the Arabian Sea, did Edgar stop in India and talk with the elephants about their small ears, and then swim the Sea of Bengal?)

Tired and bedraggled, he finally reached the small hut in Phnom Penh.

As he tiptoed up to the window, he accidentally crushed a fence around the house. (Is this a hut or a house? A hut is usually one room, and a house has many rooms. Or, do you mean home rather than house?)The noise of the splintering wood brought two young children to the window.

A lone tree in the yard offered a little cover. When the children couldn’t see anything, they turned away. (It must be terrible dark if the children couldn't see the elephant behind the small tree.)

More nervous then ever, Edgar crept around (Is Edgar inside or outside this hut?)the small hut until he found a room with a crude crib in one corner. Very carefully, he placed the package in the crib. As he drew his trunk back, he knocked a chair over. (In this case, the word "over" is a preposition, and needs an object. Perhaps better wording would be "...knocked over a chair.)

The racket woke the infant. Edgar crouched down by the side of the house, covering his face with his ears. While the occupants were busy with the infant, Edgar crawled away.

He was too tired to swim so he went by land.

By the time he made it back to Kenya, he realized maybe his co-worker was right. This was a difficult job for an elephant to do.

Edgar didn’t want to give up easily but the next package was for Anchorage Alaska. The thought of traveling halfway around the world was unpleasant.

With great reluctance, he turned in his resignation. He was sad because he wanted to be a STORK (Is this an acronym for something? If so, please write it out in full.) deliveryman.

After a moment of thinking Edgar smiled and picked up the package. He would drop her off on the way to North Pole, to be a Santa’s Little Helper.

(Finally -- the shortest route from Kenya to Alaska is over the North Pole, unless, of course, Edgar walks across Africa, swims the North Atlantic, and then walks across North America to Alaska.

I do like the idea of Edgar wanting to do a job and then realizing he can't. Every child needs to learn there are jobs they want to do and can't, but must keep going on in life. However, the distance just can't be than great. By the time Edgar would reach Phnom Penh, the child would almost be old enough to ride on Edgar's back (except that African Elephants don't usually get trained for riding). Perhaps he needs to attempt to deliver fruit over land but it spoils before he gets there, or he eats a bit now and then "because no one will miss just a bit". He could still do some swimming -- across a crocodile infested river.

03 June 2012

*Like Father

Intro: I don't think people always realize that children are just sponges.

The sound of the rain pattered on the roof of the porch, punctuating the movements of the people inside. Two small children played with blocks in the living room. Their game consisted of building towers and knocking them down. The thunder and lightning only added to their destruction enjoyment. Jenny was old enough to know not all the rumblings they heard came from the weather. Dallas banged two blocks together even as their mother shouted.

“Don’t give me another excuse. You don’t even help out at home.”

Jenny shivered as their father replied in kind, his low voice lost among another round of thunder. When the thunder ended she just heard him say.

“Do as I say, woman. I am your husband.”

“Again.” Dallas tossed the blocks to her and clapped his hands. Jenny built another tower but before she was even finished, Dallas knocked it down with a giggle.

“Again.”

“No, I don’t want to,” Jenny said. She moved over to the TV and turned it on.

“Do I say. Wooman.” Dallas stomped his foot.

Jenny frowned. “You didn’t even help.”

“Now look what you started,” her mother said.

Jenny looked up at her parents. They stood in the hall wearing frowns.

“This is your fault,” her father replied.

01 June 2012

Phule's Company

by Robert Asprin

PHULE'S COMPANY by Robert Asprin is one of those books that I love to reread. The whole book is funny but there are certain scenes that just make me laugh even when I think about them. This book isn’t what you might call fine literature, but it paints the picture well and has loveable characters, even if the plot isn’t deep or convoluted. The story is a bunch of rejects are given the opportunity to become more than anyone thought possible. But the real questions isn’t whether they can believe in themselves and take the risk.

The story follows the Omega company in the Space Legion. This is the rejects of the normal space military. This is where soldiers go when they don’t want to answer questions. Practically everyone goes by a nickname and it isn’t because they are on the right side of the law. The person in charge of this group of misfits is a man by the name of Phule. He is put in command as a punishment for strafing a peace meeting. He doesn’t just rise to the challenge, he buys anything and everything that could possible help, and then pounds the challenge into the ground. Though he may be only Captain Jester to the military, to the rest of the universe he is one of the richest men ever. But his money isn’t the only reason why his troops follow him.

There are particular scenes and characters that make me smile every time I read the book. There are several books in the series, but my favorites are PHULE’S COMPANY and PHULE’S PARADISE. The books may be a little rough around the edges but that only adds to the characters themselves. Robert Asprin can make even the most unusual aliens loveable and human.