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Happy Monday

10 Aug

The sun has barely come up on a Monday morning and I’m already cranky, thanks to a human interest story on my local morning news. Maybe it’s because I haven’t had my second cup of coffee and I’m not thinking clearly, or maybe they were trying to fit too many ideas into too small a sound bite, but somehow, in 22 very short seconds, they managed to royally tick me off. Watch out, co-workers, I’m revved up and ready to go!

In a story about a community back-to-school event, instead of discussing the event itself, they expressed how the early morning start time of school is detrimental to minority children and causes them increased obesity because they are not sleeping well due to discrimination they suffer during the day, and therefore would benefit from a later start time. Uh… What?

That kind illogical conclusion is no different than saying, “This pill is purple, and this pill is poison. Conclusion; all purple pills are poison.” No! Not all purple pills are poison. And not all (or only) minority children need a later start time/suffer discrimination/have increased obesity/don’t sleep well at night. This is the all too common, lazy man/political compilation of unrelated facts, usually twisted in a way that ignites anger or fear, that passes as news these days and I’m really getting sick of it.

The way I see it, it doesn’t matter if you are black, white, Hispanic, Asian, gay, straight, male, female, old, young, rich, poor, Christian, Jewish, or Wiccan. Everyone needs more sleep. Everyone has suffered from discrimination or been bullied. And everyone has tried to eat, or drink, or smoke, or gamble, or shop away their hurt feelings. As long as we are human beings interacting with other human beings, we will have emotional reactions to those interactions. A later school start time will not solve this problem. What we need to do as parents and educators is teach our children by example and do everything we can to make sure their daily interactions are positive ones. It’s a very basic concept. In fact, we learned it once, back in kindergarten, and Sunday School, and at Girl Scouts, and watching Sesame Street…

“Be kind to one another.”

Smile #8 ~ 94 Years Young

8 Jan

Dear Santa,

16 Dec

This week on Story Dam we had our choice of prompts. One was a really cool version of Mad Libs called Dam Libs, the other was to write a letter for Santa. My boys and I had a blast playing the Dam Libs, but after staring at that crazy paragraph for four days, the only thing I came up with was the realization that if I didn’t want to miss the deadline, I’d better stick with the letter to Santa!

The following letter is from Olivia Hanson, a character in one of my dusty little WIP’s. She’s all grown up in the story, but I always wondered what she had been like as a child. I looked through some old boxes in her trailer, and this is what I found.

***

Operation: Cookie Snatch

11 Nov
The following is a short fiction piece for Story Dam’s writing prompt “Through the Eyes of a Child.” We were tasked with changing our perspective, and asked to write a piece about a location, not as we would see it, but as a child would. Since my imagination filtered and distorted my entire world when I was child, that’s the route I took with this piece. Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoy it!
*   *   *

Charlie peeked around the end of the burned-out building andlistened hard, but all he heard was Private Sam’s heavy breathing. 

“Shh,” he whispered. 

Sam immediately clamped his jaws and sat, his head cocked, eagerlyawaiting Charlie’s next command. Charlie dared another look. Shayla, the enemycommander, a.k.a “The Babysitter,” was talking on the two-way, her evil laughcarrying across the battlefield, but she was as of yet out of view. 

“Ok…let’s go.” 

With Sam close on his heels, Charlie ran as fast as he couldacross the frozen lake, sliding to a stop against the eastwall of the armory. He placed his hands on the granite ledge of the gateway and jumped,attempting to pull his body up and over in one swift move. His arms buckledunder the weight of his body, dropping him back to his feet, but not before hehad scoped out the location of the treasure!

Charlie fell to his knees and hooked his arm around Sam,pulling the private in close. Sam’s moist breath warmed Charlie’s cheek as hewhispered, “I have visual.”

Sam lifted his head and let out a faint whine, his body shiveringin anticipation of “Mission Complete.”

Knowing he couldn’t clear the tall ledge in one leap, Charlieinspected the face of the building, searching out toeholds. When Sam sniffedout brass hooks imbedded in the wall, Charlie nodded. “Good boy.”

Cautious of enemy sighting, Charlie rose to his feet,pressed his palms on the cool granite surface of the ledge, and inserted histoes into the brass ring. With an assisted boost from Sam’s nose, Charlie muscledhis way onto the ledge. His feet dangled as the weight of his body rested onhis chest, and he stretched, straining to reach into the far, dark corner ofthe armory. 

“Can’t… quite… reach…” Charlie grunted as he wiggled in attemptto scoot forward.

Sam whined in encouragement and pranced in anxious circles.Charlie wriggled and writhed, grunting as his muscles stretched to in-humanlengths, but the treasure remained beyond his grasp. Just as he was about to abortthe mission and return to headquarters to regroup and strategize, his fingersgained purchase. 

“I got it!” Charlie whispered in victory.

Sam barked out a cheer, shattering the silence, andshattering Charlie’s concentration. His body twisted as his foot slipped. Frantically,he grasped at air, desperate to regain his hold. As he fell from the deathlyheights of the granite ledge, his uniform hooked onto a booby-trap, suspendinghim mid-air—Upside-down!

“Mommy!” Charliecried out in reflex as his treasure plummeted to the frozen lake below, shatteringon impact. And then, horror upon horror, he started to cry for real. 

The armory and frozen lake dissolved, transforming back into anupside-down, sun-drenched kitchen. Charlie flailed in panic, crying harder asblood rushed to his head and his fingertips brushed uselessly across the blue linoleumfloor. 

“Sam! Help,” Charlie pleaded as he struggled to free himselffrom capture.

With loyalty forgotten and heavy footsteps fast approaching,the dog greedily gobbled up the broken peanut butter cookies, then ran forcover.

“Traitor!” 

“Charlie! What are you—”

The words died on Shayla’s lips as she rounded the counterand laid eyes upon Charlie dangling from the handle of the silverware drawer byhis belt loop. 

“Oh. My. God! Keira, you have GOT to see this!” Shaylalaughed into her cell phone. “I’m sending a picture now.”

As The Babysitter cackled and her camera phone flashed,Charlie thrashed helplessly and plotted his revenge. The battle may be lost,but the war rages on…

Through the Eyes of a Child

11 Nov

When I was a little girl, I was obsessed with “The LittleHouse on the Prairie.” I had the box set of books, and I read them cover tocover, over and over again. I wanted to wear my hair in braids and make maplecandy in the snow. I wanted to dance to Pa playing his fiddle and ride in awagon, live in a house built of earth and fall in love with Almanzo. I wantedto see what she saw and live like she lived. I want to be Laura Ingalls Wilder, but I couldn’t. So, I did the next bestthing. I re-created her world in my imagination, and I lived there. 
My bedroom was my sod house, my living room the prairie. I“churned butter” with a broom in a bucket, and made friends with the Indian wholived in the laundry room “teepee.” Hours, days, weeks of my life were lostplaying “On Plum Creek.” It was solitary play. No one else could see what Isaw. Where I saw lazy streams and waterfalls, fields of buttercups, giant oaksand lurking wolves, General Stores and pot-belly stoves, my sister saw the sofaor the curtains or the hall closet. It wasn’t lack of imagination that kept herfrom seeing my world the way that I saw it. It was simply because she wasn’t“me.”
Trying to describe the world through a child’s eyes isnearly impossible. Sure, you can crawl on the floor and look up instead of downand try to empathize with their plight to do even the simplest things, likeopening the silverware drawer. But are you really, truly “seeing” a child’sworld simply by crawling around on all fours? I highly doubt it. Not unless yourshort-stature is a magic porthole back into the innocence of youth wherefairies do exist and the staircase to the basement is not a staircase at all buta school bus full of Cabbage Patch dolls, a trouble-making Popple, and a gruffand grumbling Pooh Bear bus driver who’s just trying to make a living.
Children live in a suspended state of elated wonder, wherethe simplest things bring the greatest joys. They live in a world where it’s hardto sit still and damn near impossible to walk when it’s so much better to berunning, or skipping, or gallopingfrom one adventure to the next. Children live where brown crayons look so muchlike Tootsie-Rolls it would be foolish not to bite into one and taste it—so theydo. Children lack impulse control. They have no sense of time. They hit andpinch and bite when they’re angry, and cry so hard they fall asleep. They canbe incredibly selfish, yet they love unconditionally. They forgive in aninstant. They giggle over puppies and peek-a-boo, and spin until they’re dizzy.They sing when they poop and have never heard of revenge… Quite simply, theyare who we wish we could still be.
As an author, the child’s mind intimidates me. I have noproblem writing a child in third person, where you rely on observation andinterpretation. But when challenged by Story Dam with the prompt of writingfrom the child’s point of view, of delving into that intricate, rainbow-coloredmind, I froze. Literally. My blood ran cold and I got the shakes, and my mindscreamed, “Noooooo!” I was abasket-case.
I’ve written child POV before, and to be honest, it was someof my worst writing ever. The dialogue was cheesy, the thought processes tooanalytical. My adult mind infused itself into the character, ruining the effectI was going for. I’ve shied away from doing it again. I envy the authors whowrite children’s books. They do an exceptional job capturing that “wow!”feeling of being a child. I don’t. So I haven’t done it again.
But, if you don’t stretch, you don’t grow, so instead ofskipping this round, I figured I’d give it another shot. The next post on thisblog is my attempt at the child’s mind. Hopefully, it’s not too painful to readall the way through. As you read, if your brain starts to ache, just remindyourself that I was capped at 600 words, so at least it’s a short pain! 😉

Thrifty Reading

19 Sep

 Daily Cheap Reads  — The thrifty way to fill your Kindle.
Am I shamelessly plugging their site because they will befeaturing MILLIE’S ROSE on Wednesday, September 21st at 5:00 pm CST?
Yes, I am. 
But you should go there now, and tomorrow morning, hang out all day Wednesday, and then go back again a week from next Tuesday…do some Christmas shoppingthere…

Every day, all day long, they post ebooks that are pricedunder $5.00. 

In this economy, why would you not?