Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What's Christian Reading? The Sea of Monsters

Christian is an avid 4th grade reader. This post is about what he's reading. This is by no means an actual review, just his comments on whatever book he's reading at the time.

This week, Christian is reading The Sea of Monsters, by Rick Riordan, the second book in the Olympians series. A couple of weeks ago, Christian gave us his thoughts on The Last Olympian, the final book in the series. He jumped from the first book to the last book in the series because that's all the library had that week. This leads to our first question:

Don't you mind skipping around in a series instead of reading the books consecutively from first to last?

"No, because I get most of the books from the library and they're not always available in order. It doesn't really bother me to skip around as long as each book is good."

 Here's what Christian says The Sea of Monsters is about:

"The book is about Percy Jackson, again. He has to find his friend Grover and rescue him from the Cyclops. Percy has to fool the Cyclops and get the Golden Fleece, like in the Odyssey.

"They need the Golden Fleece to heal the magic borders of Camp Half-Blood. The magic borders keep out the monsters. At Camp Half-Blood they train Half-Bloods, otherwise known as demi-gods; half Greek god and half human.

"They have to face the evil sorceress, Circe. She wants to eliminate all men from the world by turning them into hamsters. But they manage to take care of her!"

Here's what Christian liked best:

"I liked the ending the best, but I can't tell you about that! The next best thing was when they battled Polyphemus. Polyphemus is the Cyclops that has the Golden Fleece. The battle was cool because Percy used his sword, Riptide. It's made of celestial bronze, which is supposed to defeat any monster."

Was there anything Christian didn't like?

"No, I really like this series, they're awesome books. This series is pretty cool."

So, how does Christian rate The Sea of Monsters, by Rick Riordan?

Christian gives it 4 1/2 out of 5 flaming monkey heads.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Did You Know? The Little House Books

This week's collection of facts is about the Little House series of books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Let's see what info we were able to dig up!

Did You Know?
  • Although based on Laura Ingalls Wilder's life, the Little House books are not strictly autobiographical? They're usually classified as fiction.
  • The second book in the series, Farmer Boy, focused on the childhood of Laura's future husband, Almanzo Wilder?
  • In Little House in the Big Woods Laura is five years old, but the events in the book actually took place when she was three? The publisher had her make the age change because it was felt that a three year old wouldn't remember events so clearly.
  • There were eight Little House books published during Wilder's lifetime? Four other books were published posthumously between 1962 and 2006.
  • Although the TV series depicted the Ingalls living there for most of their lives, Walnut Grove, Minnesota was not mentioned by name in the books? The Ingalls only lived there for a few years.
  • Laura's daughter, Rose, was an accomplished writer, and encouraged her mother to begin writing?
  • Little House in the Big Woods, the first book in the Little House series, was published when Wilder was 64? Gives all of us late bloomers hope, doesn't it?
  • Laura researched her books thoroughly to make them as historically accurate as possible?
  • Laura began teaching just before she turned 17, and later admitted that she began teaching only to help support her family?
  • The Wilders had no grandchildren, so there are no direct descendants of Laura Ingalls Wilder?
  • Laura used to say that she wanted to live to be 90? She died three days after her 90th birthday, in 1957. Almonzo died in 1949 at the age of 92.
I'd like to end this weeks Did You Know? with one of my favorite moments from the Little House on the Prairie television series. Nellie has been faking being paralyzed and making Laura feel guilty. Laura discovers this and takes Nellie out for a spin in her wheelchair. A little extreme, perhaps, but funny!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday Interview Series: Laura Ingalls

This week's interview is with that darling child of the frontier, Laura Ingalls. Let's hear what Laura's got to say.

Greg: Welcome, Laura. It's really great to have you here.

Laura: Thank you for inviting me. I haven't seen this many trees since we moved away from the big woods.

Greg: Why don't you tell us a little bit about that, Laura.

Laura: Why sure. I was born in the big woods, in Wisconsin. Pa and Ma and Mary and me were real happy there. We had the best of times, working on the farm, and sugaring off--that's making maple syrup iffin' ya didn't know. Sometimes, after sugaring there'd be a dance. I loved the dances. Pa would play his fiddle, and we had a grand time.

Winters were cold, but wonderful. At night we'd sit by the fire and listen to Pa play his fiddle. Mary and I would dance with Ma and clap our hands. Sometimes I'd just sit quiet and listen. I could listen to Pa play for days on end, if his arms would let him.

Greg: Sounds lovely. How did you come to leave Wisconsin?

Laura: Pa got word that there was land opening up in Kansas. He sold our little house in the big woods, bought a covered wagon, and took us lock, stock and barrel to Kansas. Funny thing, he never told us it was still technically Indian Territory. I suppose he didn't want to worry us. Ma was pretty surprised. She wasn't partial to Indians, I've since found out.

Pa built the most lovely little house on that ol' prairie, but even Pa couldn't do it by himself. Our new neighbor, Mr. Edwards, helped him some. Pa put in the floor, put on a roof, and dug the well all by himself, though. He was just the strongest, handsomest and smartest man in the whole Kansas territory was Pa.

Greg: So everything was perfect, I take it.

Laura: Well, no. We had our share of trouble. There was the fever, for one. Ma called it fever 'n' ague. It nearly done us all in. Ma says we got it from eating watermelon, although that never made much sense to me.

Once we were better, Mr. Edwards brought us Christmas presents from Independence. That sure was a nice Christmas, right after being so sick and all. We were happy there, but we had to move again on account of our land really still belonged to the Indians and the army was gonna make us leave.

Greg: Oh dear, so it was on the road again, was it? Where did you wind up next?

Friday, February 24, 2012

A Writer's Week #8: The Kindness of Friends

Tonight was one of those nights that reminded me how blessed and fortunate I am. It was also a reminder of what's really important. As a writer trying to market my book, I can start fixating on how many books I've sold, how frequently they sell, and how to market the thing.

I have to say that I'm a terrible marketer because I don't like to toot my own horn. I've been trying to overcome that over the last three and a half months since The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel was published. So, like I said it's hard not to obsess about it all.

But really, that's not important. What is important, and I've written about this before, are the children that come up to me to tell me that they liked the book, and will I be writing another. It's the children, and a surprising number of adults, who tell me they've always wanted to write a book, and how much they admire the hard work and dedication it must have taken to follow my dream and actually do something they've always wanted to do.

Sometimes I lose sight of that. My wife Stephanie always reminds me of the fact, but it usually takes others saying it to really open my eyes. Like tonight. We went to a fish fry that our church was hosting. It was packed, and we knew a good portion of the people there.

We sit down, and a few people come up and congratulated me on the book. One mother introduces her son who loves to write. It all feels good. So we're sitting talking to another family, and another lady we know comes up. She's a teacher, and we had given her some bookmarks to hand out at her school. She came and asked us if we had any more bookmarks. Luckily we did. We gave them to her and she starts going to all the tables, handing them out.

Now, I would never have had the guts to do that myself. I don't want to be too pushy. That's why I'm not a salesperson. But her act of kindness and belief, and even pride, in me was really something that no amount of book sales could match. Will anyone buy the book as a result? Who knows. But knowing that friends are there to help spread the word is so uplifting.

That's just the latest example of friends who have spread the word. There have been other examples too numerous to mention. I appreciate and am flabbergasted by it all. Thanks.

Now, after all that you might be wondering how the writing went this week. Well, I managed to write 1,400 words, which was less than I had hoped. For those of you keeping score at home, that brings me into chapter 18 and up to a little more than 15,000 words. Still a long way to go, but I'll keep plugging.

The story will have to move forward now that most of The Deliverers are reunited. The going might get slower, or I could be inspired. We'll have to see what happens. I'll let you know next week.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What's Christian Reading? Geronimo Stilton: The Quest for Paradise

Christian is an avid 4th grade reader. This post is about what he's reading. This is by no means an actual review, just his comments on whatever book he's reading at the time.

This week, Christian has been reading Geronimo Stilton: The Quest for Paradise. 

Here's what Christian says the book is about:

"It's about Geronimo Stilton, a newspaper mouse who owns the Rodents' Gazette, the most popular newspaper on Mouse Island. He's visited the Kingdom of Fantasy before and has been called back again. In this adventure, he has to find the Map of Paradise in the Land of the Orgs.

"Once he finds the Map of Paradise, he has to go through many different lands to find the Heart of Happiness. It turns out, it's in the Kingdom of the Fairies, where they started.

"Some of the lands he visits are the Lands of Sweets, Comfort, and Fairy Tales, among others. The lands are interesting, and exciting."

Here's what Christian liked about it.

"I like the fact that it's funny. Geronimo is funny--he's scared of everything, like the dark, cats, and things that go bump in the  n night. But he always gets to the bottom of the mystery. I also like how he always wins."

Was there anything you didn't like?

"I must say, I liked it all. This is a great series."

So, how many flaming monkey heads does Christian give Geronimo Stilton: The Quest for Paradise?

Christian gives it 4 1/2 out of 5 flaming monkey heads.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Did You Know? Anne of Green Gables

Well, I'm sorry this post is a little late. My laptop is not liking Blogger today. It won't let me type a post. I finally had the bright idea of switching to our main computer, and it's not giving me any trouble at all.

Anyway, I wanted to give you all a heads up that I won't be posting tomorrow, because I have an officer's meeting at work tomorrow night. We'll learn what Christian's reading on Thursday.

This week's Did You Know? is all about Anne of Green Gables and author Lucy Maude Montgomery. So, enough of this cheerful banter, bring forth the fun facts!

Did You Know?
  • Anne of Green Gables was popular from the start, selling 19,000 copies in the first five months after its release in 1908?
  • It went through ten printings in its first year, and was translated into Swedish in 1909?
  • L.M. Montgomery wrote seven sequels? The eight Green Gables books that Montgomery wrote trace  Anne's life from age 11 to 53.
  • The Green Gables house and farm are real? It is located in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island.
  • The book was originally considered a book for all ages, but over the last 40 years or so has come to be regarded as a children's book?
  • The book is very popular in Japan, and many Japanese couples come to the Green Gables farm to be married?
  • L.M. Montgomery was first published in 1889 when she was 14?
  • Montgomery's grandfather, Donald Montgomery, was a member of the Canadian Senate?
  • When she was five or six, Montgomery nearly died of typhoid fever? Perhaps that's why the disease plays such a prominent role in the book.
  • Montgomery always wanted to be a writer, and wanted to write something that would live beyond her? I think she succeeded nicely, don't you?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday Interview Series: Anne Shirley

This week, I'm particularly pleased to introduce a very special guest, Miss. Anne Shirley of Anne of Green Gables fame. So, let's get right to the interview.

Greg:  Welcome, Anne. I'm so glad you could come down from Prince Edward Island to join us.

Anne:  Thank you for having me, I'm sure. It is most exhilarating to be here.

Greg:  Yes, I'm sure. I gather that you had a very difficult early life. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

Anne:  No more difficult than the next person, I shouldn't think. I was born in Bolingbroke, Nova Scotia, but my parents died of typhoid fever when I was only three months old, leaving me all alone in the world. My parents, Walter and Bertha Shirley were both schoolteachers, a source of great pride for me. I would like to follow in their footsteps, and have endeavored to do so.

I was taken in by our housekeeper, Mrs. Thomas. But when Mr. Thomas died, Mrs. Thomas sent me to the Hammonds, where I looked after their three sets of twins. I have ever been cursed by twins, you know. But when Mr. Hammond died--my, an awful lot of people that I know seemed to have died, come to think of it--Mrs. Hammond packed all the twins off to relatives and packed me off to an orphanage on Prince Edward Island.

I spent some bit of time at the orphanage, but was taken in by siblings, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. Unfortunately, and nearly tragically, there was a slight misunderstanding that nearly sent me back to the orphanage.

Greg:  Oh my, what was the problem?

Anne:  Well, Matthew and Marilla were under the impression that the orphanage was sending them a boy. You can imagine Matthew's surprise when he saw a freckle faced red haired girl waiting anxiously for him at the train station.

Matthew picked me up and brought me to their farm, Green Gables. I liked Matthew from the very start, and I believe he liked me. He was so kind and gentle spoken. A prince among men.

Marilla Cuthbert was made of sterner stuff. She frightened me. She was all about manners and religion and being proper, and she wanted no part of a girl on the farm. But oh, how I wanted to stay. Green Gables was just so perfect. I needed a knight in shining armor riding a white horse to come charging over the hill and save the day. And do you know what? My shining knight came.

Greg:  Really? Who was your shining knight?

Tag, I'm It--Who's Up for a Game of Book Tag?

Yesterday, just before going to bed, I checked out my Facebook page to see if anything was happening. Turns out my friends Fairday annd Lizzy from The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow shared a link to their fantastic blog. They wanted to play a game--book tag.

What is book tag, you ask? Excellent question. I have no idea. It's just a bit of fun. Oh wait, I do know--there are even rules. Here they are:

1) You must post the rules.
2) Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post and then create eleven new questions to ask the people you’ve tagged.
3) Tag eleven people and link to them on your post.
4) Let them know you’ve tagged them!

Here are the questions posed by Fairday and Lizzy:

1. When did you start blogging? 

I'm fairly new. I started in the middle of October last year.
2. What is your favorite food?

My wife would tell you everything, and that would be pretty close to the thruth! Really, it's anything sweet.

3. What is your favorite book from childhood?

Again, another tough question. I'd have to say, My Brother Sam is Dead, because it was a historical novel based on events that happened in my area, and I met one of the authors, Christopher Collier, when he visited my school.

4. Best concert you have ever attended or what concert would you like to attend?

Any of Jethro Tull's concerts are good, although Ian Anderson's voice is shot. I have a friend who has a band called The Jody S. Cipot Band that plays in New Milford, CT from time to time. They always put on a great show!



5. PC or Mac?

Definately PC.

6. Where do you buy or get most of the books you read?

These days I'm buying a lot of Kindle editions of books, but only if they're under about $8. I can't believe the prices publishers are charging for an electronic version of a book. I also like to check out any small out of the way independent bookstores when I have the chance. Some good ones: R.J. Julia in Madison, CT, and the Hickory Stick Bookshop in Washington, CT. I also go to our town library quite often. The kids love going and they have a great selection of books, audio books, and videos. The price is right, too.

7. If you could be friends with any character from a book, who would you be friends with?

Gandalf, the wizard from The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. He'd be an interesting guy to hang with, and I might even have a chance to get caught up in an adventure or two!

8. Favorite holiday?

I would have to say it's Christmas. It's still the one time of year that's downright magical for me.

9. A book you think everyone should read?

What, besides my own? Let's face it, The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel is a fun, exciting book for kids, but apart from that, I'd have to say The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. Just a great book, with a great message.

10. If you could have one wish, what would it be?

I'd like to have a time machine so I could go back to see what things were like 100, 200, 300 years ago. That's my secret, selfish wish. If I only had one wish, though, I'd do the right thing and wish that there was no poverty or war, and that everyone was happy. Who knows, if that ever happened, maybe someone would have enough money and time to invent a time machine!

11. Favorite beverage?

Ice cold, unsweetened iced tea. Nothing better when you're thirsty!
Okay, now it's time for me to give a shout out to some of my favorite blogs and say:

TAG, YOU'RE IT!!!!!!

And here are the blogs that have been tagged:

Here are my questions for all of you who were tagged:
1. If you could go back in time, what event would you most like to witness?
2. What is your favorite childhood memory?
3. What is your favorite movie?
4. What do you like to do best on a summer's day?
5. Coke or Pepsi?
6. What is your favorite guilty pleasure?
7. What is your favorite book? (I know others have asked it, but how can i not?)
8. Who do you think was the most important person in the 20th century?
9. What's your favorite kind of candy?
10. What book makes you laugh most?
11. Rock, paper, scissors?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

What's Christian Reading? The Last Olympian


Christian is an avid 4th grade reader. This post is about what he's reading. This is by no means an actual review, just his comments on whatever book he's reading at the time.

He does rate each book. He's decided to use what he calls flaming monkey heads as his unit of measure on a scale of 1 to 5. Why he chose that I'll never know. He's his father's son, I suppose.

Normally, Christian sits down with me to talk about one of the books he's read during the week. This week, he was right in the middle of the book he wanted to talk about, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riorden. So I didn't post on Wednesday. Trouble was, I wouldn't have an opening until Saturday. No problem, I figured, Christian would be done with the book by then.

Now it's Saturday, and I say to Christian, okay, let's talk about The Lightning Thief. Christian says, "Oh, I finished that Thursday, I want to talk about The Last Olympian." This gets me to thinking, he couldn't have read the other four books in the series in two days, could he? I mean, I know there was no school Thursday and Friday, but...really?

I ask Christian this, and he gives me this look, like geez dad, you're nuts, and says "No, this was the only other one they had left at the library, and I want to talk about this one because it's fresh in my mind."

Fair enough. So here's Christian's take on The Last Olympian, by Rick Riordan.

Here's what Christian says the book is about:

"It is about Percy Jackson who's a regular kid who found out that he's the son of Poseidon. He has a bunch of adventures. In this one he has to defeat Kronos, King of the Titans. A pegasus lands on the hood of his car. It's Percy's pegasus, Blackjack, who's come to take him on a really dangerous mission.

"Percy goes with Blackjack to the Princess Andromeda, the Titans' cruise ship. Percy has to stop them from getting to New York, and the Empire State Building, where Olympus is now located.

"He has a lot of exciting adventures which I can't really tell you about without giving the story away."

Here's what Christian liked best about the book:

"The battle for Olympus. It was very exciting. There was a lot of fighting, and many people were wounded. It kept me hooked. I wanted to see what happened next.

"I like Percy's ability to control the sea or any other water source, and use it to battle enemies. His powers are awesome! I also like that he has a pegasus for a friend. That would be cool."

Was there anything you didn't like about the book?

"I pretty much liked it all. It was an awesome book."

So, how many flaming monkey heads does Christian give The Last Olympian, by Rick Riordan?

Christian gives it 5 out of 5 flaming monkey heads.

Friday, February 17, 2012

A Writer's Week #7: Reunited & It Feels So Good

No, this is not a Valentine's Day post. It's also not a salute to the '70's and Peaches & Berb (look it up, kids). This is a post about my writing week. Again, it was hard to find time to write this week. I'm happy to report, though, that I did all right.

I managed to write a little more than 1,800 words for the Book That's Yet to be Named, otherwise known as the sequel to The Deliverers: Sharkey and the Jewel. I'm now up to the start of chapter 16.

So where does the whole reunited theme come in you ask? I mentioned last week that I've got all my characters running around creation, working on different parts of the story. I had said that soon I'd have to find a way to bring them back together. Well, I've managed the get 75% of my group reunited. Now, there's only one more roaming character to corral. I don't think that will happen for a little bit, though.

That's not what's got mme worried, however. I actually sat down and did the math on this book. I have a goal to finish the first draft by the end of April. I figure the book will be about 50,000 words or so. I've written about 13, 600 words so far. I've got about 10 1/2 weeks until May 1st. I've been averaging about 1,500 words a week. Hmmm, 1500 x 10.5 weeks = less than 16,000 words, which would leave me less than 60% of the way there...

It seems I'm going to have to step up my game. We'll see if I can. It's hard to devote more than a couple of nights to writing at this point. Well, time will tell how this will play out. In the meantime, I'm going to celebrate the fact that I've got three quarters of the band back together. Here's some classic 70's soulfulness:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Scenes That Inspire #2: Calendria

Hello. Sorry for not posting yesterday. Things have been busy at work, and Christian hadn't finished the book he was goinng to talk about. So, I decided to take a little break. What's Christian Reading? will  appear on Saturday.

Today, I was looking through some pictures that I took before Christmas, and I came upon a couple that I had intended to use in a post one day. Well, today is that day.  Way back in October when I had just started the blog, I wrote a post about some places that had inspired my depiction of Calendria in my book, The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel.

There's another place that inspired the geographic layout of  the small fishing village started by retired pirates. I discovered it while on a hike less than half a mile from my house--the bay of Calendria. The first time I saw it was in the summer with the leaves from the trees giving the illusion of high ridges encircling the bay. While this winter picture doesn't quite do it justice, it should still give you the general idea.

I already had the layout of Calendria in my head, but it was amazing to see something that resembled the bay so closely right near my own home. It gave me the idea of a side grotto that Captain Weatherbee's sloop was moored in, and the overlook that Eric and Stig first viewed Calendria from, as you can see here:


Now, there are no islands in either the bay or its entrance, but as I sat up there the first time, I could envision the village laid out before me. After that first day, I brought a notebook up there a few times and wrote right where Christian and Abby are sitting in the picture. When I was writing, the place would become Calendria, and there's nothing more inspiring than that.

I think that's why out of all the worlds Eric and company visit, Calendria will always hold a special place in my heart. Not only is it the first place they visited, but it's only a short hike from my house. Maybe somme day, Eric will for thought.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Did You Know? Tarzan of the Apes

First off, a very Happy Valentine's Day to everyone! I hope everyone is having a great day/evening! This week's Did You Know? focuses on Tarzan of the Apes and Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Did you know?
  • Jane's full name is Jane Porter?
  • Jane's father's name is Archimedes Q. Porter? He was on an expidition to find buried treasure when he met Tarzan.
  • Tarzan is able to speak more than 12 animal and human languages?
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote 26 Tarzan books?
  • Tarzan was the son of a British Lord and Lady? I wonder why so many of these types of characters are always members of the aristocracy.
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs was a prolific author, writing numerous science fiction and fantasy novels in addition to his Tarzan series?
  • Burroughs enlisted with the 7th Cavalry in 1895, and was discharged 1897 after it was discovered he had a heart condition?
  • He held a number of low paying jobs, including selling pencil sharpeners, before beginning to submit stories to pulp fiction magazines?
  • Tarzana, the name of Burroughs' California ranch, was adopted by residents of the area for their new town in 1927? Today, Tarzana, California is home to over 28,000 people.
  • In 1923, Burroughs set up his own company and printed his own books until the 1930's? Now that's the way to self publish!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Monday Interview Series: Tarzan

This week's interview is with everybody's favorite swinger, Tarzan the Ape Man. Due to his aversion to "civilization," we had to journey to darkest Africa to get some face time with the Lord of the Jungle.

Greg:  Hello, thanks for inviting us, Tarzan. Nice jungle you've got here.

Tarzan:  Thank you. Sorry, we didn't have time to clean up much. We didn't expect you so soon. The vines need trimming and we haven't emptied Cheetah's litter box in a week. I'm so embarrassed.

Greg:  No worries. We came by jet, much better than those long ocean voyages. Anyway, tell us a little bit about your childhood.

Tarzan:  Not much to tell. Can't remember very much. I was only a baby when my parents and I were marooned here. Mother died soon after. My father was killed by Kerchak, leader of the Mangani ape tribe. The tribe adopted me, or rather Kala, my ape mother did.

Greg:  Fascinating. How did you, a human, manage to survive among the apes?

Tarzan:  They took care of me. Kala raised me. I learned much; ape ways and ape speech. I learned to climb, swing from vines like an ape. I grew strong, fought many in the jungle. I learned to speak with apes, monkeys, elephants, lions, tigers, cheetahs, many animals in the jungle.

Greg:  You're remarkably well spoken for someone raised by apes.

Tarzan:  I learn man speech from humans who come to the jungle, and I've been to big man cities, to civilization. Many strange things I saw there, and many languages I learned. I did not like it. Smelly, dirty places. Crowded, polluted. All animals slaves there, and many people, too.

I wanted to leave, but Jane wanted me to stay. It was her home. I wanted her to be happy, but I was not happy, and that made Jane unhappy. In civilization, no one is happy. Tarzan left, and Jane agreed to go, too.

Greg:  How did you meet Jane?

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Writer's Week #6: Nice Week

Here we are almost halfway through February, and we've hardly seen a single snowflake this winter. I know it's hard on skiers, and folks who plow, but you won't see me crying about it. We had one big storm in late October, and a storm that dumped six and a half inches on us in January, but other than that--zip, zilch, nada!

Needless to say, the weather was beautiful here in Connecticut this past week. Since I did not have to shovel anything, I was able to use that valuable time to write. I was able to add about 1,400 words all told. That puts me at the start of chapter 13. I'd say that I'm about a quarter through the story at this point.

So far, I have characters scattered here, there and everywhere. They're off doing things on their own and meeting all sorts of characters. If they ever make a movie of this book, there will be quite a large supporting cast. All of them are adding something to the story, which is what you want, but sometimes it's hard to keep track of everyone. I don't think it will be that way for the reader, but it's something I'll have to keep my eye on.

I think that now, Eric, Stig, Kate and Hallo have met just about everyone that they're going to. I'll have to bring everyone back together now so that the story will be able to move forward, which will take some thought. It was realtively easy to split them up, but now they have to reunite plausibly.

It looks like that process will start this week. I'm also going to go back and read what I've written for the first time. I'm praying that when I do I won't say, "Oh man, why the heck did I write that?!" Well, I'll let you know how that goes next week!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

My How Time Flies!

Tomorrow is a special day. On that day ten years ago, a cold, rainy February Sunday, my son Christian was born. It really doesn't seem possible. Back then, he was cute and cuddly and I could hold him in the crook of my arm (now, he's almost as tall as his mother).

See, that's him when he was only a few hours old. He's still a little pink and scrunched here, and he had a strange, Harry Potter-like jagged dark patch on his forehead. He had a strong grip, though. Here's another one:

He's so cute. Anyhow, tomorrow is a big day not just for Christian, but for his mother and me. It was the day we became parents--the day Stephanie became a mother, and I became a father. I know that back then we didn't fully realize what we were getting into--not by a long shot.

It's amazing how life has changed, and how long ago that day was. It's also gone by far too quickly. Thank God the bumps along the way have been mostly minor. Now, I can hardly remember a time when our lives didn't revolve around the two balls of energy that are our children.

So there's always some friction along the way. Christian is too much like I am at times. When I see him acting like I did when I was his age, it sometimes drives me nuts. But he also gets me. We often laugh at stuff we think is hilarious while the two girls in the family look at us like we're crazy (we aren't, really. No, honestly!).

I'm proud of him. He does well in school (despite all his complaints about it) and is getting to be quite a bowler. He says the darndest things, and loves to see his parents get embarrassed. My coworkers think he's hilarious, and say they're going to publish a book of Christianisms. Oh yes, and, how many other nine (soon to be ten) year olds have their own blog column?

Anyway, happy birthday, Christian. I don't think you'll ever understand how you've changed the lives of your mother and me. We love you!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

What's Christian Reading? George's Marvelous Medicine

This week, Christian decided to share his thoughts on another Roald Dahl book that he's been reading, George's Marvelous Medicine. One day last month, Christian came home from the library with a Roald Dahl Treasury, which was a compliation of a bunch of his books. I never realized how prolific Roald Dahl was. I'm going to have to read this book.

Here is Christian's take on Roald Dahl's George's Marvelous Medicine.

This is what Christian says the book is about.

"It's about a boy who has a nasty grandma, and he gets left home alone with her. She's really grouchy, so he decides to give her a taste of her own medicine. He makes a concoction of many different items around the house and animal medicine. Some of the things he puts in it are toothpaste, shaving soap, vitamin enriched hair cream, hair remover, horse pills, sheep pills, antifreeze, motor oil, and brown paint among other things.

"It is quite a short book, only 89 pages. The medicine makes grandma grow to an enormous size. You won't believe what happens."

Here's what Christian liked most about the book.

"The part that I liked most was when Grandma grew to an enormous size, because then she started complaining even worse than usual. She complained about the fact that George made her grow. The book was very funny."

Here's what Christian did not like about the book.

"The fact that it was so short. I didn't really like how the grandmother was so pushy. If I were George I would have done exactly what he did!"

What do you like about Roald dahl's books, because you've read so many of them?

"I like them, because they all have a touch of fantasy. All his books touch on fantasy, even though they take place in the real world. I also like the fact that they are all pretty funny."

So how does Christian rate George's Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl?

Christian gives it 4 1/2 out of 5 Flaming Monkey Heads.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Did You Know? Peter Pan

Monday's interview was with Peter Pan, so today's Did You Know? is about, you guessed it, Peter Pan and author J.M. Barrie.

Did You Know?
  • Peter Pan first appeared in a section of J.M. Barrie's novel, The Little White Bird in 1902?
  • Peter Pan's best known adventure debuted in London as a play entitled Peter Pan, or the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up in 1904?
  • Barrie adapted and expanded the play into a novel titled, Peter and Wendy in 1911?
  • Peter Pan is based in part on Barrie's brother, David, who died in a skating accident at 14? The tragic event inspired the idea of someone who would never grow up, and remain young in memory.
  • Barrie never pins down Peter's age, but does say that he has all of his baby teeth?
  • Barrie was ambidextrous? When he got writer's cramp, he would write with his left hand.
  • Barrie was good friends with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? They played on the same cricket team, and co-wrote a libretto for the opera, Jane Annie.
  • In addition to Peter Pan, Barrie wrote a number of other plays and novels?
  • Barrie originally created Peter Pan to amuse George and Jack Llewelyn Davies? "Uncle Jim" as he was known to the children of the Llewelyn Davies family, told them stories in which their little brother, Peter, could fly.
  • When Barrie died, he left his copyright for Peter Pan to the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Monday Interview Series: Peter Pan

This week the Monday Interview Series returns with an interview with the boy who never grew up, Peter Pan.

Greg: Welcome, Peter. I know you have a busy schedule, so we'll get right to it. Can you tell me a little bit about your childhood?

Peter: Ha, ha! Silly grown up man! That's a good one! My childhodd is my whole life, and I hope it will never end.

Greg: Of course, how silly of me. Can you tell me how you first came to Neverland?

Peter: I was lost. My parents lost me. Tinkerbell found me. I would have died. She took me away to Neverland. Soon, we both flew out together, looking for lost boys like me. They became my men. We have a great time fighting pirates, teasing mermaids, and having councils of war with the Indians.

Greg: Don't you miss having a mother?

Peter: Nah! Mothers are nothing but trouble! 'Sides, we had a mother once. Her name was Wendy. She darned stockings, and told us stories. We had some grand adventures, I can tell you. That was about the only time we had a mother. She wasn't so bad, but she had to grow up.

I wanted her to stay and be our mother always, but she had to take her brothers, John and Michael,home. They missed their real mother.

Greg: Do you ever miss Wendy?