Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Warning: Part 1

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It’s merely a game,” Mother said calmly, trying not to show her impatience. “Why must you get so upset?”

 

It’s cruel!” I said loudly, causing the women around us to glance away from the man getting his limbs torn off by an anorexic lion. “They capture the poor beasts and force them to fight. They don’t even allow them to eat what they’ve killed.”

 

Eos!” Mother whispered harshly. “Now is not the time. Now sit quietly and enjoy the game.” She turned back to the fight, straightening the huge black curls she had managed to pile on the top of her head. She had tried to do the same to me, but my short, straight hair wouldn’t allow it.

 

The lion pounced, it’s sharp claws extended. The man hurled himself out of the way, causing the lion to stumble. The man took this opportunity to thrust his weapon into the beast’s shoulder. I looked away. The lion roared, and so did the crowd. They cheered, standing, throwing rings and necklaces to the victor. The warrior received his spoils, and the now-deceased lion was dragged out of the arena. I turned back to my mother.

 

May I leave now?” I asked quietly. Mother nodded. I stood quickly, wanting to get out as soon as I could. I pushed my way through the crowd, muttering the occasional “excuse me” and “pardon.” When I finally broke through, I started walking home. The streets were pretty clear; everyone had left their shops and homes to watch the game.

 

I spotted a bowl of bread laying sideways on a booth, a few of the loaves in the dirt. I picked them up, brushed them off, and tucked them under my arm. I tossed a few coins on the booth in their place, but I doubted anyone would notice they were missing.

 

I jogged through the streets, the path home embedded in my mind. When I reached my small estate, I wasn’t surprised to see a small brown head pop up from behind a tree.

 

Eos!” Lucia said. “I’m surprised to see you back so soon! Couldn’t stand to see the carnage?” Lucia jogged up to me, swinging her arm around my shoulder before I could respond. “Y’know what’d make you feel better? Helping me chop wood. You love chopping wood! I’ll get the axe.” She bounded away, her long brown waves flowing out behind her. By the time I got to the stump, Lucia had already gathered between twenty and thirty hunks of wood. She handed me the hatchet while simultaneously placing a piece of wood on the stump. She leaned against the tree, crossing her arms across her chest. I set the loaves on the ground. I tightened my grip on the hatchet, raising it above my head. I swung it down on the wood, splitting it perfectly at the center.

 

So,” I said, reaching for another hunk of wood. “What’d you come to tell me?” Lucia thought for a moment, then shrugged.

 

Nothing Important really. Y’know, just standard stuff. Who wins the next game. What the weather’s gonna be like.” She held up her wrist. The bulky bracelet was black, and covered in buttons and knobs. “Ever since Willa gave this to me, nothing really drastic has happened.” She looked down. I turned back to the wood. “Yet,” she said quietly, just as I swung the hatchet.

 

What was that?” I asked. Lucia shrugged again.

 

Nothin’.” She smiled. I grabbed another piece of wood.

 

Who is Willa? I mean, I know she’s from the future, like you. And that she gave you the bracelet, but why? Where did she get it?” I asked, looking over, but Lucia wasn’t paying attention. She was staring at Vesuvius, the huge mountain in the distance. Smoke was pouring out of the top.

 

How long has it been doing that?” she asked urgently, still watching the mountain. I looked back.

 

I dunno, a week maybe? Why?” Lucia’s head snapped toward me.

 

A week?! That long?” she asked, fear in her eyes. I nodded.

 

What’s wrong?” I asked, putting the hatchet down. Lucia ran her fingers through her hair, blowing air out of her nose.

 

Hey, uh, why don’t you and your family get outta here for a while? You know, go visit Britannia or something.” She tried to smile again, but it looked more like a grimace.

 

Lucinda, what’s the matter?” I asked, calling her by her real name instead of her nickname. “What’s going to happen to Pompeii?” Lucia inhaled, rubbing the back of her neck.

 

A lot of stuff,” she said quietly. Fear panged in my chest.

 

What do you mean, ‘a lot of stuff?’ Lucia, answer me!” I yelled. Lucia flinched.


“I will, I promise. Just…not now. You won’t believe me yet. I need to get something first. I’ll see you in a little bit.” She started twisting the knobs on her bracelet.

 

Lucia, you can’t leave yet, you haven’t-” I was cut off by a blinding light and rush of air. I turned my head, holding my arm in front of my eyes. When I looked back, Lucia was gone.

 

-Grace<3

Buford Massacre of 1780

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Today, as my last little bit of school, Emily and I went out geocaching. We didn’t find any caches, but we did stumble upon the Buford Massacre of 1780 Memorial, which neither of us had even heard of before. Apparently, it was a big battle with 350 American soldiers against an unknown amount of British troops. It’s said that the American soldiers surrendered, but were attacked anyway. The information said: 113 patriots died, 150 were wounded (but most died due to their injuries), and 53 were captured. Only a few escaped on horseback.

Also on the site was a small grave surrounded by rocks with a small tombstone. From what we could tell, it belonged to someone called Little A.F. Plyler. He/She only lived from 1891 to 189?. We couldn’t make out the last digit. We also weren’t sure why that grave was there.

There was also a Buford Battleground Memorial just a few feet away. That was all we saw, but it was really cool to find something like that without even trying.

-Grace<3

The Massacre Memorial

The Massacre Memorial

The Buford Battle Memorial

The Buford Battle Memorial

A.F. Plyler's grave

A.F. Plyler’s grave

 

 

A Healthier CVS

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Today, while watching CNN Student News, I learned that CVS will stop selling cigarettes. I have a few things to say about that.

 

On the one hand, I think it’s great that CVS has stopped selling tobacco products. It’s true that cigarettes are not exactly healthy, and CVS is indeed a pharmacy. They have every right to stop selling something proven to cause illnesses. On the other hand, I find it odd that out of every unhealthy thing in their store (soda, candy, alcohol, etc.) they chose to stop selling cigarettes. They are still carrying junk food and other unhealthy things that are more harmful or can cause health problems at a much faster rate. Maybe the owner just really hates the way cigarette smoke smells.

 

Over all, it’s good for them to get rid of unhealthy items in their stores, but it would make more sense to me to start somewhere different. In the CNN article, it said that only 19% of Americans smoke cigarettes, and I have a feeling more than 19% of Americans eat junk food. Also, my 12 year-old person could walk into a CVS and buy fifty pounds of junk food and candy, but I can’t buy a pack of cigarettes, so getting rid of junk food would affect the youth. Maybe replace the candy aisle with healthier snacks. They could replace the alcohol with that weird squeezable applesauce or something.

 

-Grace<3

Wheat-Free Treats for a Sweet Pup

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Today Emily and I noticed that our dog, Frank, didn’t seem to be feeling so hot. He had already puked today and didn’t seem to want to do anything. I mean, our dog is lazy, but he didn’t even get up when we started messing with the treat bag. So we looked it up on the interweb. After some searching, we stumbled upon the symptoms of a wheat allergy in dogs. Frank had all of them, apart from the seizures (thank goodness). We suspected that Frank was allergic to wheat. What made things a little harder was that Frank’s dog treats had wheat as the first ingredient. Emily decided that she was just going to start making treats at home for the pup-star, to make sure he didn’t get any wheat.

 

She found a nifty recipe for peanut butter pumpkin dog treats on Pinterest, and we altered it slightly to make it easier for us. This is what you need.

 

  • 2 ½ cups of rice flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 3 T. peanut butter
  • 2 tsp.-1T. water, whichever works for you

 

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Mix all of your ingredients in a bowl. Now, the original recipe says to roll your dough out and use a cookie cutter, but that doesn’t really work. Then, start pulling out little clumps and rolling them into balls with your hands. Flatten them out (about ¼ inch thick) and place them on a cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. The original recipe also doesn’t include water or 3 eggs (only two) and it gets really crumbly. Just add 3 eggs and the water to make it doughier.

 

Voilà! You and your pup are now the proud owners of delicious peanut butter pumpkin treats. They can be people food too, but they are a little flavorless. Frank loves them, and that’s all that really matters.

 

-Grace<3

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We’re Back!

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So, you might be wondering why it took so long for us to update the blog. The thing is, I’ve been in public school, soaking up the valuable skills, like learning how to squeeze through giant crowds of people without getting trampled. Honestly, it wasn’t a very fun experience. I did make some new friends though, so it wasn’t exactly all bad.

 

Today was my first day back as a home-schooler, and I have really missed it. No more getting up at 6:30. Today, I got up at 9:30. 9:30! I even got some goofing-around time before school started. Instead of eating a gross heated-up school lunch, I had a small bowl of peanuts, which I snacked on for the rest of the day.

 

Things are going to be a little different this year. I’m going to be spending one full week at each house before switching, so my mother is going to be teaching me just as much as Emily will. I’m going to start taking piano lessons and studying astronomy. This week I’m at my dad and Emily’s house, so I did most of today’s lessons on the couch. I did however go outside for physical activity time, which I quite enjoyed. We spent a good chunk of it cleaning up the trash people throw onto the side of the road.

 

Both Emily and I will definitely start updating you guys more often. I’m really looking forward to being taught by both Emily and my mom. It’ll be a great learning experience. Bye!

 

-Grace<3

We’re Still Here!

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And we’ve been doing all sorts of lovely things…

Like petting snakes:

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And making cookies:

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Taking walks in the yard:

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And experimenting with light:

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Yep, we’re still up to our usual stuff…including getting slack with the blog. 😉 But later this week, we’ll be updating again with a Viking-style saga that Grace and Kylie worked on together. Fun! 🙂

A Visitor…and Applesauce

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Yep, Kylie is staying with us for a few days and joining in the school fun. 🙂 Our first project? Why, making applesauce, of course. 😀

Preparing the apples:

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Stir, stir, stir the apples with lemon juice, brown sugar, and a cinnamon stick.

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And now we wait. 🙂

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Now both girls are sitting quietly with books in hand. Nice! 😀

What sort of projects do you have going today?

Please Excuse Me While I Brag a Moment

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Sometimes I am just amazed at what a mature, thoughtful, considerate young lady Grace is growing into. Don’t get me wrong…I appreciate her daily! Sometimes, though, she does something that really highlights how awesome she is.

Earlier this week, I agreed to help the Literacy Council with their Summer Literacy Program, a program where adults and children are welcome. The adults are in one room working on literacy skills while the children are in another room reading stories, watching puppet shows, dancing, etc. Well, I will be the first to admit that I am not the ideal candidate for partying with a bunch of small children. Without going into details, I’ll just say that this is not the sort of thing I enjoy. But the Literacy Council was kind of desperate for volunteers, so I agreed.

When I told Grace about it, she, without hesitation, offered to go with me. 🙂 She knew that I wouldn’t go nearly as bonkers with her there, and she jumped right on the opportunity to help (even though a room full of children is far from her cup of tea, too). I was just so very impressed with her willingness to help in a situation she knew she wouldn’t enjoy. What an awesome display of spontaneous selflessness and maturity. I am so very proud of her! 🙂

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The kids watching a puppet show about monkeys. 🙂

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Doing a crazy monkey dance. Yep, Grace and I chose to be the official picture takers and watchers of the children who weren’t dancing for this portion of the program. 😉

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The kids had a blast putting on their own puppet shows. 🙂

Snakes!

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After finishing up our unit on owls, Grace wanted to check out a snake study. This one was shorter than the owl study, but still packed full of new information for Grace.

Did you know that there are no snakes in New Zealand?  Or that snakes can have from 1 – 100 babies at a time?!?  And did you know that snake scales are made up of the same substance as your fingernails?  Those were some of Grace’s favorite facts. 🙂

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I love the picture Grace drew of a snake hatching! 🙂

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The front of the snake folder.

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The guts of the snake folder. 🙂

Here’s a very shaky, poor quality video I took of a snake in our yard the other day.  Grace wasn’t here for the actual viewing of the snake, but she enjoyed watching the video. 😉

Next week we’ll really put the finishing touches on our snake study by returning to the reptile museum. 😀

Interview with Mike Fedison, Author of The Eye-Dancers

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This is a “cross post” from Nerd in the Brain, so if you read both blogs, don’t be alarmed. 🙂

Grace recently did a wonderful job in helping me develop questions for an author of a self-published book…the fantastic Mike Fedison. His book, The Eye-Dancers, is a great read for just about all ages.  (Okay, so the toddler crowd might not enjoy it, but just about everyone else will.) 😉  Some really good advice is given to young authors in the interview, so Grace and I thought this blog would be a great venue for the interview, too.  Grace hasn’t actually read The Eye-Dancers yet, but it’s next on her list…I’m thinking you’ll be hearing her thoughts on the book in the near future.

A great read for a small investment!  Click the picture for links to purchase. :)

A great read for a small investment! Click the picture for links to purchase. 🙂

Without further ado, here’s the interview:

1. Before we really get started with the questions, tell us a little bit about your book.

The Eye-Dancers is a book that (I would like to think!) is hard to pigeonhole. On the one hand, it is a young adult sci-fi/fantasy complete with ghost girls, parallel worlds, quantum physics, mystery, and endless blue voids. I hope readers of all ages will find that the story takes them on a wild, imaginative ride. But on the other hand, the story is, at its heart, about four boys, their struggles to fit in, their difficulties with insecurities , and the challenges of adolescence. Despite the science-fiction backdrop, I very much hope that readers will become invested in the characters, root for them, and care about them.

The Eye-Dancers also explores the theme of oneness—everything is connected. Events and people that seem so far away, a universe away, are, in actuality, much closer to us than we ever dared to think.

2. How did The Eye-Dancers come to be? Was it a story you formulated over time or were you just zapped with inspiration one day?

Both! Back when I was a teenager, I had a vivid dream—the kind of dream that stays with you long after you wake up. In the dream, I felt an unexplainable need to look through my bedroom window, into the street. It was late, well after midnight. When I looked outside, there was a girl standing beneath the streetlight. But she was no ordinary girl. The light seemed to filter right through her, as though she were more ghost than girl. She gestured for me to come outside, and I felt scared, as if she represented a threat.

Then I woke up. Even back then I was always looking to write stories, and I remember wanting very much to incorporate this “ghost girl” into a tale. I tried several, but nothing worked. I couldn’t seem to build a story around her. So—reluctantly, I filed her away in a “story vault,” hoping that, one day, she would appear in a novel or shorter piece of fiction.

Year went by—twenty years, to be exact! And then, one night, I had the same dream—dreaming of this same “ghost girl.” But this time, when I woke up, the basic idea for The Eye-Dancers was in place. It was one of those extreme highs in a writer’s life. Going to bed, I had nothing. Upon waking, I had a novel to write. I felt energized, and couldn’t wait to get started. The next day, I did . . .

3. Tell us a bit about your writing process. Are there outlines and notes and scheduled writing times or a flurry of ideas crammed into a document when you have spare moments or something in between?

I don’t really have scheduled writing times—my dream is to be able to be a full-time novelist, but that hasn’t happened yet! As such, I just write when I can. Sometimes it’s very early in the morning. Sometimes it’s on a lazy, nondescript Saturday afternoon. Other times it’s late at night. The key is—to write at least something nearly every day. Once I get into the process of writing a novel, I want to make sure I keep the momentum going.

I don’t use detailed, chapter-by-chapter outlines—I find those too restrictive. The creative process is fluid and can change midstream. I wouldn’t want to adhere firmly to a set plan ahead of time when the characters in the story might be telling me to go in an entirely new direction. (And yes, characters DO talk to me, after a fashion! I need to keep my ears open.) I do write a lot of notes, though—guideposts where I think the story is going. These, too, can change, though, the deeper I get in to the novel.

4. What advice do you have for a young aspiring author?

Write what you love, not what’s in vogue. Write because you have to, because if you don’t, you feel like you’re going to burst. Be willing to work hard at your craft, and edit, edit, edit. When you think a story is finished, it isn’t. Be open and receptive to feedback, but at the same time, believe in your story, your voice, and what you’re trying to say. And keep dreaming, keep persevering, never stop trying. There will be rejections and criticisms and self-doubts. Get through those. Keep going, and reach for the stars.

5. Your characters are incredibly intriguing and flawed (in an interesting way). Are the characters of The Eye-Dancers based on aspects of yourself or people you know?

They are! The four main characters are inspired by friends I knew growing up. And yes, there are aspects of myself in them, as well, particularly the character of Mitchell Brant. It was very fun writing for these boys!

6. Is there a character in the book that you relate to better than the others? 

Without a doubt, Mitchell Brant. Mitchell’s love of old comic books in general (and The Fantastic Four in particular), his shyness around girls, and his overactive imagination are aspects I, myself, shared when I was that age.

7. What were your favorite books as a kid? Were you influenced by them as you were writing your novel?

Well, certainly those old comic books. I still love collectible comic books from decades past! Also, I was (and still am) a big fan of The Twilight Zone. I always enjoyed the imaginative storytelling of that show and the important themes it explores. As for books, Ray Bradbury has always been a favorite—I love his writing style, his enthusiasm, his imagination. I used to read Stephen King a lot. It was a favorite of mine when I was a teenager. I think all writers are influenced by their favorite authors. As time goes on, though, you naturally develop your own style, perspective, and cultivate a voice and point of view that is uniquely your own.

8. What are you reading now?

Honestly, most of my reading is assigned! I do a lot of freelance proofreading work for a handful of book publishers. On average, I proofread thirty to forty books each year—which, unfortunately, doesn’t leave as much time as I’d like for pleasure reading. That said, when there is a book I really want to read, I will read it! I enjoy reading the work of indie and up-and-coming authors. I love the classics, and enjoy imaginative storytelling in all its many forms. In a nutshell, I love to read. Always have, always will.

9. Why did you decide to self publish? Are you pleased with the results?

I did query several agents, and a handful of publishers first, but, despite some interest, nothing ever worked out the way I would have liked. In the end, I decided to self-publish. I liked the idea of marketing the book myself, interacting directly with readers, setting the book’s selling price—just being in complete creative control of the entire process.

As for the results, that’s hard to say. I look at this as a long-term project, and I feel like the process has only just begun. I have had a great time interacting with readers and bloggers. That has been a joy. I suppose I will wait to claim success (or failure) for at least a couple of years. Until then, I will do my best to “get the word out” regarding The Eye-Dancers. A wonderful interview opportunity like this one certainly helps!

10. Do you have any other projects in the works for us to look forward to?

I am putting the finishing touches on a collection of three short stories that will be released later this summer. Also, I have just begun working on a sequel to The Eye-Dancers. It will be fun to delve back into that world again!

We hope you enjoyed our first author interview!  We had a lot of fun with this…perhaps more author interviews should be in our future?