Book of the Week – Pingo

I must admit, I was intrigued when I first heard about Pingo.  All I knew was that it was about a boy who stops believing in his imaginary friend – and so the imaginary friend goes rogue.

That’s right.  He becomes an imaginary enemy.

I finally checked it out at the library last week, and I love it.  Brandon Mull can tell them long or short – either way, he’s very good at what he does.  The illustrator did a very nice job, too.  The pictures are amazing.

If you have a kid; if you know a kid; if you are a kid; if you like kids – you have to read this.

It’s just that good.

Book of the Week – Circumnavigating Fairyland

I must admit, when my niece first recommended The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, I was a little skeptical.  It sounded a little too perky and chipper.  I like fairylands, and I like exploration, but I thought it sounded almost childish – Fairyland is such a secure place that even a little girl can travel around it safely.  And of course she’s such a smart little girl, she can build her own ship, too.

No.  Uh uh.  Try again.

Do you like The Phantom Tollbooth?  This story has a slightly Phantom Tollbooth feel to it, even as it’s completely different.  Maybe more like The Phantom Tollbooth meets The Wizard of Oz or Alice in Wonderland before heading to the Liebrary.

In short, Circumnavigating Fairyland was more complicated than I expected.  The author has a fun (but quirky) narrative style, the plot is interesting (if sometimes confusing), and the characters are Somewhat Heartless (but not, speaking of Oz, in the fashion of the Tin Woodman).  If you like Fairyland Adventures, this may be the book for you.

I’m sorry I doubted you, Niece.

In Which The Universe Is Still Laughing….

You may remember the previous times the Universe has Laughed at my expense.  Or you may not.  It’s happened a few times.  For one of my more spectacular experiences with said Universe, check out this story from a year and a half ago.

So – I stayed up late last night.  Yes, I was up past six.  (I have something of a strict bedtime these days.  You get used to it.)  And this morning, I was up and running at three.  (Hence the strict bedtime.  Yes, there’s a reason; no, it’s not relevant.)  I gathered my copies of Rapunzel’s Revenge and Calamity Jack, fetched my Fablehaven T-shirt, grabbed my Rapunzel dolls, and unearthed my camera.  (For those of you wondering why there have been no promised pictures of Harry Potter Puppets these last few months, there’s your answer.  I apologize.  After I finally remembered to take the pictures, I went and lost my camera.  It’s safe now, though – scout’s honor.)  I even debated the merits of buying my Own Copy of Beyonders (it’s amazing!).

What’s that you ask?  Why?

I planned to attend a Launch Party for the second Beyonders book, hosted by a Local Library.  At least two amazing authors were to attend.  It would be several hours of all things fun: books, more books, and authors.

This morning, as I began checking with siblings to see if they wanted bookplates signed, I began to get a funny tickle in the back of my brain.  I didn’t have my calender book with me, and I decided to check online to make sure I was on top of things.

I wasn’t.  The party was last night.  I need to plan these things better.  And the universe needs to stop laughing at me.

At least I had an in-progress Rapunzel doll and my juggling balls to console me….

Short Story Takeover

My mom (and brother…  and friends…) won’t be happy with me.

I have been working on a long story for about two and a half years now.  (For comparison, the previous story took me only a year and a half to finish the first draft – but that’s another story….)  I know where the plotline is heading.  I know the main characters, and how they’ll react to upcoming events.  I even have some idea of what happens between Plot Point A and Plot Point B.

What’s the trouble? you ask – you have to ask?  I’m a writer.  I like instant gratification as much as the next Crafter.  And, next to long stories, short stories are instant.

That’s right.  I’ve fallen into a death trap of short stories.  I have more in progress than I care to count.  I just finished one a week or two ago – and a very nice Shiny New Toy it was, too.

And so this morning, as I tried to focus on the Next Scene in my current story (or What To Fix with the other one), is it much of a surprise that another Shiny New Toy popped into my head?

It’s not very new, mind.  I’ve had it kicking around since September.  But this morning, it began kicking and screaming like a maniac, scaring all my other story ideas away.  I kept trying to focus on my Long Stories, but this one is very insistent.

Family and Friends, consider yourselves warned.  I shall endeavor to resist – but this feels like a battle that’s over before before it’s truly begun.  I shall bring the Long Story with me tomorrow, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I’ll be spending far more time with a Beauty… a Beast… a Grudge… and a Faraway Land.

Sorry Family.  I tried.

The Space-Time Conundrum

Greetings, visitors.

I come to you from a strange distant land.  A land – with 366 days in the year!

That’s right: it’s Leap Day!  Be sure to enjoy it.  After all, we should enjoy the rare things in life – and what’s rarer than the elusive February 29?  It won’t return for four more years.

Now on to another piece of cake….

Have Leap Day, everyone!

Potter Puppets and A Merry Christmas

I keep meaning to post more often, and then life gets in the way.  Last week illustrates an exaggerated example.

I’ve been adjusting to a new job (for which I need to get up around 3 or 3:30 in the morning).  Other than that, I’ve been able to take the week easy (relatively) – until Thursday.  Why Thursday?  Because I’m really awful great at procrastinating, with an emphasis in firmly believing things will take less time than they do.

My nieces and nephews here in the Dry State recently discovered Harry Potter, and they can’t get enough.  They’ve been finishing an audio book every week or two, and just started the sixth.  Well, I like making finger puppets.  I decided (after one of them specifically asked for me to make a Hagrid doll/puppet) to make a set of Harry Potter puppets.

Thursday, I got the red-orange yarn I needed for the Weasley hair and Hogwarts scarves.  Harry was done, Hermione nearly so, and I believe Dumbledore was about half-knit.  Having spent the entire day with aforementioned nieces and nephew, I was too tired to start when I returned to my Place of Residence.  Friday morning, though – and Saturday, as well – I jumped right into knitting as soon as I woke.  I spent nearly the whole day at my desk, knitting while listening to movies and music.  By yesterday morning, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Voldemort, Hagrid, Dumbledore, Draco Malfoy, and one Slytherin scarf were done.  Luna, Snape, Ginny, four Gryffindor scarves, and one Ravenclaw scarf were in various stages of unfinished or nonexistent states.

By the time they came to get me, I only needed to weave in the loose ends on two of the scarves.  Because of the way I made them, there were a lot of loose ends.  This seemed to take longer than it ought to, but it’s been a while since I’ve taken care of so many loose ends.

My point?  I wanted to write a post about it the entire time, but simply had no time.  Even without the post, I was pushing time.

It was worth it to see them open the package.  They fell in love with their own Potter Puppet Pals.

Pictures forthcoming – that’s something else I didn’t have time for earlier.  Merry (late) Christmas or Happy Holidays!


Wow.  Has it been ten years already?

Ten years ago today, I sat in a classroom.  A teacher wheeled a TV in and turned on the news.  Life changed.  One of my teachers was anxious – she had a brother who worked at the Pentagon.  (He was safe.)

This was the first time I’d heard of terrorism.  I had a hard time understanding how people could do such things to fellow human beings.  Sometimes, I still wonder.

I remember the following days.  The news was always on, and I hoped every day that more survivors would be found in the wreckage.  It was a black day for me when I heard that nobody expected to find any more still living.

My family was not directly affected by the attacks that day – but I have often mourned for those that were.

It’s been ten years, America.  Don’t forget – and don’t give up.

Stories: A Hobby or A Lifestyle?

Every now and again, my head becomes a very crowded place.  I’m currently revising one long (30,000-40,000 words) story, writing and typing a prequel, and playing with several short (about 10,000 words) stories.

[As a side note, it’s interesting that I can churn out a short story in a month (if I’m really busy) or a week (if I’m not), but a story three times as long takes more like two years.  One of life’s little mysteries.  Perhaps if I could just stay focused….]

Anyway, my head gets pretty crowded.  Each of the characters wants to talk, each of the scenes has something to show, every last plotline could always use more tweaking….

Some weeks ago, I had a problem.  None of the books available to me (personal copies and library books alike) seemed interesting.  (Horrors!)  I’d checked my email and a few of my favorite websites (if you like writing, and haven’t heard of Writing Excuses, check it out!), and played minesweeper until I was ready to explode.  I didn’t particularly feel like writing, but I couldn’t think of anything else.  Plotlines, characters, dialogue, description, motivation… I was almost – dare I say it? – tired of my stories.

Not tired in the sense that I’m-sick-of-this-and-never-want-to-do-it-again, but tired in the sense that I’ve-been-thinking-about-this-and-nothing-else-and-desperately-need-a-diversion.  I got to thinking about this, and wondered.

When I read, watch movies, crochet, etc – am I doing this because I enjoy it?  Or because it lets my mind rest from the unceasing chatter inside my brain?

Three Little Ghosteses, Continued

And about time, I hear you say.

I quite agree.  I fully intended to continue the topic of games the very next day.  Then life caught up with me – I got busy and distracted, then grew progressively more intimidated.  Something about promising a topic ahead of time just made me nervous about addressing the topic at all.  Silly, I know.

I’d say my excuse in recent months is that I’ve just been too busy writing, except… well….  Passing completely over the fact that one of the Residents of my Apartment is Enabling my Avatar: The Last Airbender addiction, I’ve played so much minesweeper that I see grids with numbers in my sleep.

No, unfortunately, I’m not joking.  On several occasions, I’ve been in bed – either just waking up or trying to fall asleep – with eyes closed, and I see the Minesweeper Grid.  And I start playing it in my head.  I don’t get very far – my memory’s nowhere near that good – but it’s the principle of the thing.  Just a hunch, but I think I better lay off the minesweeper for a little while….

Anyway, I was going to write a post on the role of Spying in the Three Little Ghosteses game my niece and nephew invented.  It’s quite simple, really (though, this role was nonexistent in early versions of the game).  The Spy follows the Hider, then reports back to the Seeker with information about the Hider’s whereabouts.

The number of Spies depends on the number of players.  If you really enjoy a mental workout, you can employ Spies and Counter-Spies.  The Spies look for the Hider and report to the Seeker; the Counter-Spies do much the same, except that they’re on the Hider’s team.  They report back to the Seeker, but they report misinformation.  Their goal is to mislead the Seeker and aid the Hider.  Everyone Hides, Seeks, or Spies.  Lots of running and mayhem fun.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  These kids come up with their own games on a regular basis….