Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Royal Decree--Her Highness Hath Spoken

Royal Decree Issued Forth From Her Majesty, the Queen:

Her Majesty has shown the utmost patience and putupwithance of her royal capacity. Yea, even to the biting of her Highness' royal tongue and only uttering the softest of debasements and dire grumblings, until this fortuitous day.

Her Majesty's patience hath run its course. The mournful end of Her Highness' benevolence arrived this morning. As she prepared to be enlightened with variances of swivel and sway--yea, even as she prepared to verily, bust a move, she discovered that the dark wands which control the magic tutoring boxes had evaporated once again into seemingly thin air.

The wands have been perpetually disappearing as if by black magic, and to keep them--and you, subjects--under the Queen's cheerful and radiant visage, no one except Her Majesty or His Highness, the King, shall ever touch them. Hereto and forthwith, not one of the kingdom's subjects are ever permitted to touch with the finger, the toes--or any part of the subjects' anatomy--the wands which cause the magic boxes to perform their duty. No silver discs shall be inserted, no buttons pressed with the forefinger--nay, nothing shall be done in this manner which requires the use of the aforementioned wands without express permission from Her Majesty.

Once recovered, the wands are to be left on the table next to the royal throne. Theft or unpermitted usage of these wands will cause the sorry subject(s) to be tossed out of the kingdom on his/her/their bottom(s) and left to fend for his/her/themselves in the wild Forests of Banishment, unable to use any forms of magical entertainment boxes for a time, the length thereof determined by the Queen. (And we all know how our Queen rules when her Highness is perturbed.)

Monday, January 14, 2013

A Crappy Day--Er, Morning

Last night was a bit of a mess. Bean wouldn't go to sleep. He wailed, "I love you, 'Jingle Bell Rock,'" for nearly an hour (he misses Christmas) before switching to, "Lion's snowman meeeeelllted. It was so cute. Waaaaah!" over and over again. Then a couple "I'm hungry!" which is generally a calculated action to prey on our sympathies, until we realized that even though he'd eaten a late dinner and had a strawberry/blackberry smoothie afterward, he was actually still hungry. Two bananas, a few minutes of him being wide awake begging to play video games and a forcing-him-to-go-back-to-bed later, all was quiet.

James went to bed. I decided to continue a bit of studying since the house was finally so quiet my ears hurt (yes, I know that's unusual), and I couldn't sleep. My back was a bit too upset with me to sleep in bed, so I retrieved my pillow and settled in on the couch.

My brain, however, had other ideas.

So did my dog.

Even after studying a giant textbook which should have had me out like a light, there had been so much noise and activity earlier that I still couldn't sleep. At 1:00 am, Romeo (the dog) whined to be let outside. It wasn't typical of him to want to go out that late, especially since he had been out about an hour earlier. I indulged him, and did a bit of web surfing on my phone, trying to calm my brain down. Then I let him back in, took some melatonin and ibuprofen--which I should have taken earlier--then settled on the couch and fell asleep about 2:00.

Every now and then I was roused from the weirdest dreams (thanks, melatonin!) by Romeo whining at me because he wanted to go outside.

Uh, no. No way in Halifax was I going to let that whiny dog bully me into getting up to let him out in the middle of the night just because I happened to be sleeping on the couch. When he gets extra needy, I usually yell at him  explain gently that I have children who do these things, and I will not take it from a dog! (Generally referring to those instances like begging for treats, having an accident, barfing in their beds, whining when I tell them to do something, or being underfoot where I will trip on them as I'm taking a hot pot of pasta to the sink to drain.) So, I threatened him in that tone while I fumbled around on the top of the couch for something to toss his direction that would help punctuate my words. My cell phone? No. Glasses? Definitely not. Clean shirt or something that didn't get put away? That would just be punishing me since I'd have to wash it again. An unopened mail envelope? My last conscious thought was, Oh, --guess that might work if it'll reach him . . . then I fell asleep and knew no more until James came to pray with me before he went to work.

I must have mumbled something about Romeo, because my sweet husband said, "Yes, I heard that. Maybe you should go to our bed so you can get some rest." James left, and I turned over and felt the envelope. Bah.  My earlybird, Lion, got up and went to the kitchen. I hauled myself off the couch and stumbled past him, then stopped as Lion stood transfixed. In a horrified tone, he exclaimed, "What is that?"

"What?" I asked, not having my glasses on.

He pointed to a misshapen dark spot on the floor. "That!"

Since without my glasses I only see vague color blobs swirling around everywhere, I went back to the couch to get them, the feeling of doom increasing every step I took. I went back to the kitchen.


A pile of diarrhea. And someone with a large shoe had unknowingly stepped in part of it in the dark of morning, tracking the mess through the house. AAAAHHHHH!

At that moment, Bean began wailing because he'd wet his pants overnight. He is three now, and very proud that he is mostly dry. So, I went to the bathroom where Bean lay on the floor, stripped from the waist down, screaming about being wet, which changed to howls of, "I want DADDY!" No sooner had he begun pining for his father, he got up and went yelling out of the bathroom, where he threw himself down on the floor in front of the hall closet--and planted his hands right where James had gone past with poo shoes on his way out the door.

I really, really, wanted to say lots of bad words.

Instead, I had reached that point. The point where it was time for the excuse that I am the only one who didn't really want a dog, but for the good of the family, I gave in, and I am not responsible for his actions. The point where I know I'm going to be an awful mother, but I really don't care. The point where I push down the memories of my own mother in such situations, all patient, calm, and loving, and I have to resign myself to the fact that she is an angel, and I will never be. A quick thought came to me that well, I could try, and then I shoved those thoughts away. Not gonna happen when I'm trying to hold onto my last shred of sanity at the same time I'm hauling a screaming three-year-old off the floor.

So, I did something terrible. "Lion," I said, my voice calmly sounding a death knell while Bean wriggled and hollered, "I am not cleaning this up. You do it." I wish I knew how to use that tone all the time, because Lion made no complaints or protestations. I gave him a pair of disposable gloves and disinfectant, told him what to do, then I washed Bean's hands, stuck clothes on him, and took him into bed with me to snuggle.

Lion cleaned the entire mess up, then took the disgusting trash out to the can, later telling me in full detail how awful it smelled. I fell asleep with Bean, which hasn't happened in far too long. Our morning was wasted in one respect, but on the other hand, Lion--who eight years ago could hardly speak, couldn't understand me, wouldn't eat most foods, and couldn't touch grass or finger paints--was the man of the house while his elder brother slept the sleep of the dead preteen practicing teen sleep habits, and I got to snuggle and sleep with my baby.

Lion is getting an extra special birthday cake for his eleventh birthday on Thursday.

I call that a successful morning.

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Dark Eagles: First Flight by David R. Smith

Kief loves exploring the rugged mountains on his horse, Natch, with his
best friend Tarc.  But when he receives a mysterious map on his birthday,
left behind for him by his dead grandfather, Kief is thrown into an
adventure beyond even his imagination.
Leaving home to pursue his childhood dream of attending the merchant
academy on the coast, extraordinary events unfold propelling Kief, along
with his friends and his map, toward the same perilous destiny.

My Review

Because I am a writer, it is very easy for me to slip into editing mode when reading a book. In fact, that seems to be my default mode. If a book can snatch me out of editing mode and engross me in the story, it has done its job. Because of this, I was very hesitant to review this book after I had finished reading it. I didn't feel like the story really got going until about 50-60 pages in, and it wasn't until the last third that I was able to get fully engrossed in it.

I commend the author for having an original idea and going with it. The overall story of how a group of teens battle against a nearly faceless evil is a common theme, but the way the author deals with it is fascinating. Near the end, I found myself racing through, and my pulse was pounding! 

I wish this book had been in the hands of a professional editor, because it would have benefited greatly. For example, I kept thinking the main character was 13-16 years of age, and the only age I could find him being was 22. It wasn't until I read an author interview that I learned that time is calculated differently in the book's world, so Keif was actually about 17 years old in Earth time. To find this out, you have to look at the charts in the back of the book. There are also a few spelling errors, a slew of grammatical ones--mainly involving comma usage--and a need for content tightening, which a professional editor would have taken care of. So, I recommend that if at all possible, a professional editor is hired to work over this book for content, spelling, and grammar in subsequent editions, because the bones of something really great are in the story. 

If you are not a writer with an annoying editor stuck in her head, you may enjoy the book as is. It is relatively clean, with no sex. There is violence, including gun violence, but it is not graphically described. I would feel comfortable with my twelve-year-old son reading it. The target audience seems to be teen boys, and I think boys would be interested in the story line. First Flight has gotten some great reviews, so read it and see what you think. I commend the author for putting himself out there like this. That is not an easy thing to do. It is obvious that he has talent in world-building, and I am looking forward to seeing him grow and develop his talents in his next writing projects.

I absolutely love the drawings throughout the book in the chapter headings and such. David R. Smith has quite the talent for maps. I have a fondness for trees, and I would love to see some of his drawings in larger form so I could hang them as artwork! In fact, the drawings are some of the best I've seen in any book.

Visit his website here: The Dark Eagles

*Disclaimer: I was given an autographed copy of the book for review, and have not been compensated for my thoughts--not that they would be worth much, anyway. Maybe a couple of doughnuts, which I am not eating right now because I'm trying to better my health, so that would be a waste of postage.*