21 December 2012

George and Martha

by James Marshall

This week Moose’s aunt and uncle had us over to celebrate our birthdays and Christmas. The Christmas present they gave us was the complete collection of GEORGE AND MARTHA stories by James Marshall. I had read a few of the stories but I absolutely love having them all and reading them all. They are cute and just make me laugh. I can’t wait to read them all with Moose.

GEORGE AND MARTHA is about two hippopotamuses who are best friends. (Though they appear to be married at times, they are just good friends.) They have disagreements and disappointments, but they always manage to reconcile by the end of the story. Within each picture book there are three or four stories some only two pages long. The artwork is bold and adds so much more to the story. One of my favorite stories is the first one where George hides the pea soup in his loafers under the table. The idea behind him putting the soup in his shoes just makes me giggle. I also love the one where Martha gets her picture taken in a photobooth. Picture large nostrils and really small, beady eyes.

I didn’t realize how many James Marshall stories I knew until I started looking him up for this review. He is the illustrator for the hilarious Viola Swamp/Miss Nelson stories. He wrote and illustrated the GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS is a Caldecott Honor book, and he also illustrated THE STUPIDS. While the books are classified “for children” they are perfect for adults as well. GEORGE AND MARTHA are sure to make you laugh, and smile.

19 December 2012


Sorry I didn't post a story on Sunday. I just couldn't come up with an idea I liked and I am tired of posting stories that I don't really like. I will still try and write a story every week, but I won't guarantee it, especially these next few weeks.

Yesterday I went to a department potluck. I was feeling slightly ill because one of my coworkers had been cooking brats all day. His cooking secret, beer. I don't drink and haven't been around alcohol very much, but I could smell the beer. Everyone could smell it. And it was making me sick to my stomach though the majority of my other coworkers couldn't get enough of it.

I was looking forward to the potluck. One of my coworkers made wassail. I love wassail and I don't get it too often, unless I buy the Stephen's Citrus and Spice. Homemade wassail is wonderful. I would say 90% of the people who came to the potluck had no idea what it was. The few of us who did know were explaining it to everyone. I was so confused as to why no one knew what the traditional drink was. I was talking to my boss later that day and we came to the conclusion that my coworkers, including my boss, didn't know what it was were the ones who drink alcohol. Those of us who knew what is was didn't. (Though there was one fellow, who makes the beer and brats, who knew what wassail was.) It was just an interesting coincidence. Or maybe it was a correlation, but everyone who tried the wassail wanted the recipe so I think it turned out well.

14 December 2012

Servant of a Dark God

by John Brown

I read this book several years ago and I keep trying to write a review that does the book justice. I heard John Brown speak at the writing conference Life, the Universe, and Everything a couple years ago. His panel on writing a killer story is what really made me interested in his book SERVANT OF A DARK GOD. I do at a caveat that while the main character is a teenager, this book isn't shelved YA. The story is grim and delves into some of the dark sides of human nature. I am sure that there are young adults out there that would have any issue but don't expect it to be like Brandon Mull or James Dashner.

The story follows that of young Talen who is forced to take a good look at what he thinks to be wrong and write. There is a group of people known as soul-eaters and they aren't exactly the people that Talen was led to believe. Not only that, but he learns the truth about the harvesting of souls. There is so much to this story that deals with the magic of souls and the beings who seek to be in charge. . . and that’s where I get stuck. I just can't find a succinct way to explain it, but that is what I love about this story. There is so much going on that it left me breathless at times. How John Brown was ever able to boil it down into a query letter or pitch is beyond me.

This book is fantasy and it reminds me of some of the classics, without being full of tropes. SERVANT OF A DARK GOD paints a beautiful world with vivid characters I came to care about, even if I wasn't supposed to. It is fresh and unique and I look forward to the rest of the series when they come out, though don't let that stop you from reading this book. You will want the time to digest it and possibly reread it a few times because there is so much there.

12 December 2012

Sequel and LTUE 2013

This week has been really good. I finished writing my sequel for Eidolon, though there is still a lot of work to be done. I got hung up for a few weeks because I wasn’t sure I liked where the story was going. Eidolon has turned out so cool I was worried that the sequel wouldn’t be nearly as good. I’ve never written a sequel before. As I said, there is still a lot of work to do, but at least I have the basic story down so I only have to fill in the details. I think that this story is going to turn out really neat as well, I just have a lot of work to do with it. But I am once again excited at how the story is developing. I just hope my beta readers like it as well, though it will still be a month or two before most of them see even the draft.

The other happy thing that happened this week is that I get to present a research paper at LTUE in February. The best part is the fact that I get to present with my Dad. We wrote the paper together over the summer. We had a lot of fun together trying to come up with the topic and then going back and forth as we wrote. I have a little experience when it comes to waiting for the results. (I am still waiting to hear on one of my submissions and in January it will be 2 years.) When we submitted the paper in October I was kind of hoping to hear back quickly, but I wasn’t surprised it took almost two months. So now Dad and I get to prepare our presentation. This will be the hard part for me, but the easier part for my father. I am so excited.

09 December 2012

*Key to Peace

Intro: I had an odd dream that involved a key. The key was important and it was something that was limited to a few number of people. I had a few ideas for this and this is the one that I went with.

The key hung on a chain from the Mayor’s belt. Every Mayor wore the key, a sign of who they were. It wasn’t that the key was a symbol of the Mayor’s mantle, but rather the key was charge. The key weighed on Melissa Clayton’s belt and her shoulders, bowing them under the responsibility. As a child she thought she had seen the key but it hadn’t been significant. Now that she bore the key she wished she had put aside the goal of becoming Mayor.

Melissa sat behind her desk, tapping the key on the wood. Supplications littered her desk. This family wanted a larger ration of flour. A young man wished for a ring to propose. A child was asking for a new blanket. Melissa continued tapping.

“Is everything alright?” This came from Bradley, her Second. He was leaning against the doorframe.

“I feel like the sky is about to fall,” she replied.

Bradley’s gaze flicked to the key. “I think you’re just stressed. You should come back to bed.”

In addition to Bradley being her Second, he was also her lover. Marriage was expected, but there just hadn’t been time, and she had so many other commitments, like the key. That trumped every other situation and was her future, not Bradley, even if she wanted it.

“I have lots of work. I’m sorry if I woke you.”

His bare feet padded across the floor. His robe was open to his waist and she appreciated the view. He knew that. When he was behind her, he wrapped his arms around her shoulders.

“I always have a hard time sleeping when you aren’t in bed. It makes me feel like I am shirking my duties.” He kissed her neck. “You should work me more, make me exhausted, so I can sleep.”

Melissa’s breath caught as he continued seducing her.

“Come to bed. Those can wait. It’s not like anyone is starving or dying. At least no one outside of those expected and they are taken care of.”

The tapping of the key started up again. She stared at her hand and the brass rod. It looked like a trinket, bobble, nor a key. Keys were an archaic technology.

“Let it rest.” Bradley reached out to still her hand but Melissa slipped the key away and broke from his embrace.

“I’ll come to bed when I can. Keep the bed warm for me.”

She stood and kissed him, taking her time to taste. As she walked past she slapped his butt.

“Come back,” Bradley said.

Melissa walked through the streets. There were a few people out, picking up the trash and washing. The Commune was getting ready to celebrate its four hundredth year. She had been working Bradley non-stop during the day and he often fell asleep on the couch while waiting for dinner to arrive.

At the wall she rested her hand against the cold metal. She grew up in the Commune. Outside of their peaceful world was anarchy. She knew because she spent five years outside as part of her training. She looked up.

The sky sparkled with the planes exploding overhead. The Commune existed as humanity’s last hope. And yet, the key tugged at her. She walked along the wall, feeling the divots in the wall. No one knew what they were for, except the Mayors. She walked all the way around. The imperfections were evenly spaced save one place. Three-hundred and ninety-eight divots and one hole.

“It is time.”

She pushed the metal rod into the hole. Already she could feel the wall humming to life. Her life was for the greater good of the city. With the last Mayor in place, the wall would slowly grow outward, spreading the commune and peace. The four hundred year test period was at an end.

“Goodbye, Melissa.”

Melissa turned and looked at Bradley.

“I’m sorry.”

“I’m not. I knew I couldn’t keep you forever.”

“Marry a nice woman. Make her happy. Forget about me.”

“Never. I wish you would have married me. I don’t mind being a widower.”

“But you deserve a family. Marrying me would have prevented that.”

“I guess we’ll never know. I love you.” He waved as her mission as Mayor was ended, with her life. Her mind melded with the others who had given their lives. They would live forever as the collective mind focused on peace.

07 December 2012

The Queen's Thief

by Megan Whalen Turner

This week it was really easy to decide what to review. The reason I chose THE QUEEN’S THIEF series is because the author Megan Whalen Turner is coming to LTUE this year. I am really excited because this is one of my all-time favorite series. This is another book that my grandmother introduced me to. I read them when I was in college. At the time it was only a trilogy. The books aren’t written like most YA books, especially the last one, A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS. There are four books in the series: THE THIEF, THE QUEEN OF ATTOLIA, THE KING OF ATTOLIA, and A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS.

The series follows Eugenides, a thief who goes by the name Gen. Because of his bragging he is captured and then is required to steal on demand. Gen is one of the characters that I loved from the beginning. He is clever, witty, and the loveable rogue. As the series continues and Gen matures, he becomes even greater, which I didn’t think would be realistically possible. The narrators change over the course of the books, which puts the characters in different light. I can’t really say too much because there is just too much and I don’t really want to give away any of the surprises.

There are surprises in the book and it is fun to follow the lines and see how everything ties together over the course of the entire series. And can I just say, Gen only makes thieves even more likeable. I will be rereading the books, and probably buying them, before LTUE in February. Go Gen.

05 December 2012

The Past Year

Another year draws to a close and as I always do, I go back over what happened during the year. This year my husband stayed with the same company. In the five years we’ve been married he’s had 4 jobs. I on the other hand, changed jobs in March. I was talking with my older sister recently and she asked me if I was nervous about visiting her over Christmas. Every other time I’ve gone on vacation for more than a week I have lost my job. I said I wasn’t worried because the company closes between Christmas and New Year’s. I doubt that I will be laid off when everyone will be on vacation. (Fingers crossed. I don’t want to tempt fate.)

A few more things we did this year. This year we celebrated our 5th anniversary. We went to Monticello, Utah for a family reunion and met up with some of my cousins that I hadn’t seen in a few years. I had an essay and a short story published and one of my manuscripts was picked up for publication. I survived a car accident. And so much more. When I think about everything that occurred this year I realized that I am pleased with everything that I accomplished. I don’t have any regrets about what happened this year.

There were also a few times when life didn’t pan out exactly as I hoped. There were plenty of tears and frustrations. Some dreams may never come true no matter how much I try. But, at the same time some there are still plenty of dreams and more than enough happiness. I have no idea what next year will bring, but I am sure that there will be plenty more adventures and tears. And that is the way it will always be. The adventures will be far more fun and far outlast the tears.

Happy Birthday ( ' ' )

02 December 2012

*Blind Effects

Intro: Look, I got all three posts in this last week. This story came from a conversation I had with Moose. He fell asleep while I was driving and when he woke up I made a comment about "Nice to have you back." He replied with "But I didn't go anywhere."

“Were you watching me while I was sleeping?” Charles suppressed a yawn.
“No,” Martha said. “You went somewhere, again.”

Charles rubbed the heel of his hand against his forehead. “I feel like I’ve been through a war.”

Martha pushed herself up on her arm, her black hair falling to the pillow. “You look like it.” She ran a hand across his face, smearing the dirt.

“How can you see?”

“I turned on the light when your body disappeared.”

“What time was that?”

“About two-thirty.”

Charles fumbled on the bedside table and picked up his watch. He felt the face and let out a sigh.

“Only two hours. I still have time.”

Martha swung her feet out of bed and pulled Charles after him. When she had been in college her room had shown her priorities, anything but cleaning. Working part time and going to school, in addition to her community choir, left no care for cleaning. Marrying a blind man had changed that. She had met him in college. He was new to the city and had a hard time getting around. She always found him sitting in the back of the auditorium listening to the choir. She’d found him attractive and cute. Clueless but not helpless.

Charles stumbled and Martha caught him. The left leg of his pajamas was shredded. She half carried him to the bathroom and deposited him in the tub.

Once he was clean, and bandaged, they sat huddled together on the couch.

“I dreamed, but I don’t remember what it was. I think, I think I could actually see. But I don’t know. I just remember the loud noises. Gunfire.”

“How do you even know what gunfire sounds like?”

He opened and closed his mouth a few times. “Like in the movies.”

“We’ve never seen a movie with guns. They don’t even make movies with guns anymore.”

Martha shook her head. “I think we need to go back to the surgeon. This started happening when you had your surgery.” She shivered. “I keep thinking that if we could eliminate war and create clones, we could return your sight.”

“But it isn’t returning my sight. I never had any to begin with. It’s been this way since I was a child.” Charles pulled her close. “I’ll make an appointment with the doctor.”

That afternoon, Martha found herself frozen before the glass doors of the hospital. The lack of violence hadn’t made hospitals obsolete like everyone had hypothesized. Not even the new methods of childbirth had been as miraculous.

“Are you coming?” Charles asked. His helmet shone in the light. They couldn’t return his sight, but he wasn’t completely hopeless. Martha wasn’t sure what the scientificness was behind the helmet, but it kept him from running into things. It also caused headaches, which was why he never wore it at home.

They were shown to the examination room where the doctor was waiting for them.

“I understand something is wrong. What can I help you with?” Dr. Matthews asked.

“I am not sure. Martha is the one who can explain it.”

Martha shifted on the padded chair. “Ever since the surgery Charles has been disappearing when he sleeps.”

Dr. Matthews tapped his computer. “Disappearing? As in he doesn’t respond to you?”

“As in his body is no longer there.”



“Are you sure?”

Martha gripped her knees. “No. One minute he is asleep next to me, the next he is gone. He returns the same way, only it’s like he’s been somewhere else. This morning he came back injured.”

“With your husband’s condition it isn’t surprising that he would be injured. No offense.”

Charles merely snorted.

“I just don’t want you to worry about nothing. I can prescribe a sleep aid.”

Martha scooted forward on her chair. “This only started happening after his latest surgery. I want you to make sure that there hasn’t been any complications because of the new sensors.”

“There is nothing wrong with the sensors.”

“Dr. Matthews, I would like my implants to be checked out.” Charles said. “I don’t like what has been happening. I don’t like waking up beaten and bruised.”

“Charles, you have always been accident prone. I remember hearing about how your mom used to bring you in all the time because of your accidents.”

“Yes,” Charles licked his lips. “Accidents like what I have been going through. I went through surgery when I was a child, to stop the nightmares.”

Martha clenched her hands, just as transfixed as the doctor.

“They implanted my brain, to keep me from Traveling. What did you do to me?”

Dr. Matthews moved away from his computer and clasped his hands. “It’s not the implants that are failing. Your being pulled back to your time.”

Charles rested his head in his hands. “I don’t want to go back.”

“You have to. You weren’t supposed to be here for this long. You have to go back and tell them what you found. Tell them about the side effects of dimensional travel. They have to find another way of escape. I can maybe give you two or three more days.”

Martha covered her face with her hands and wept.

Charles wrapped his arm around her. “I thought I could stay. I didn’t mind living blind if it meant I could live with you.”