Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Story of Wicky

*I wrote this...a long time ago. This is AS-IS, no current editing, etc. I rather like it! Enjoy!

Wicky was a rock.

He was small (but not small enough to be a pebble) and grey. A boring grey.

He lived under the stairs to the porch of the Huggy family.

Mr. Huggy was a lawyer. He was always rushing around, running up and down the porch stairs, off to work and coming home late. Mrs. Huggy was a school teacher. She was always busy, quickly going up and down the porch, heading for school and then hurrying to get dinner ready as soon as she came home. The Huggys had one child. His name was Stanley.

Stanley was ten years old.

Wicky had known Stanley since he was born, and had grown quite fond of him. He called out to Stanley everyday when Stanley hopped down the porch stairs on his way to school or play, and he called out to Stanley when he skipped back up the porch stairs into the house after school or back from play. He would call out: "Stanley! Stanley! Stanley, come play with me!"

But, Stanley never heard Wicky.

Wicky would sigh sadly and turn his attention to The Weed.

The Weed was a spiky green thing that would have preferred to not have Wicky around. The Weed was pompous and arrogant. He liked nothing more than to just think about himself and his concerns. He patiently, and sometimes rather impatiently, ignored Wicky.

"I do wish Stanley would pay more attention to me," Wicky would say.

The Weed ignored Wicky.

"We could have so much fun together! You have no idea!"

The Weed ignored Wicky.

"Perhaps next time you could help me get his attention."

The Weed sniffed, and then ignored Wicky some more.

Wicky never seemed to notice.

The seasons passed, and still Wicky continued to call out to Stanley, never giving up hope that the young boy would one day hear him and gleefully pick him up. The Weed just sniffed.

One bright sunny day, Wicky realized that Stanley had not yet appeared. He wondered where he could be.

"Today is not a weekend, nor is it a holiday," Wicky said to The Weed. The Weed ignored him.

Wicky turned to The Weed.

"What do you think has happened?"

The Weed ignored him.

"What if he's sick!?" Wicky said with some alarm. For as long as he could remember, Stanley had never gotten sick. He was always a healthy, robust child.

The Weed ignored him.

"What if something has happened to him?" Wicky exclaimed.

"Perhaps he has died," The Weed said.

"WHAT!?" Wicky shrieked.

The Weed sniffed and turned his back on Wicky.

Days passed, and Wicky anxiously waited for news of Stanley. Finally, one gloomy Thursday morning, Mr. Huggy slowly walked down the porch steps and to his car. He was talking on his cellular phone to someone.

"No, Jim. I'll arrange the funeral. Thanks for he offer, but Betty wants to do this herself. Thanks for looking at the house for us though. I think it'll be fine. I have to go now, I have to go meet with the funeral home. G'bye."

Mr. Huggy drove off in his shiny black Cadillac, and Wicky gasped in shock. The Weed had been right! Stanley had died!

"But how!?" Wicky wailed to The Weed.

The Weed ignored him.

"Poor poor Stanley. And we never got to play! He was such a good little boy. We could've had so much fun! Poor poor Stanley. Poor Mr. Huggy. Poor Mrs. Huggy. Poor me! I shall never be played with."

The Weed sniffed disdainfully and ignored Wicky.

In the days that followed, Wicky finally learned, little by little, the details of poor Stanley's tragic passing. he had arrived home from school with a bad cough, and that bad cough had become the terrible tuberculosis. Stanley had died shortly afterwards, and Mr. and Mrs. Huggy had sold the house and bought a smaller one in another town far away from Wicky.

The funeral was held on a sunny Saturday, and Wicky was sad that he could not attend. He called out to Mr. Huggy and Mrs. Huggy on their way to the cemetary, to take him with them and bury him with Stanley, but neither heard him. The Weed just ignored him.

Finally, the day came when neither Mr. or Mrs. Huggy returned to the house. The porch was silent, no footsteps sounded above Wicky for weeks.

Then one day, the shiny brown dress shoes of the real estate agent, that Wicky had come to recognize, was accompanied by a pair of little feet in blue sneakers with red stripes.

"A little boy!" Wicky exclaimed happily. The Weed ignored him.

Wicky hoped against all hopes that this family would move in, and perhaps he would call out out this new little boy and the child would hear him and play with him! Wicky could hardly contain his excitement. The Weed ignored him.

Finally, one day not too long after, a moving truck pulled up in front of the house and Wicky shrieked gleefully!

"They're moving in!" he said to The Weed. The Weed ignored him.

The little blue and red sneakers raced up the porch steps, and were followed by pink hih heels and black loafers.

"Now, Jonny," Wicky heard a high voice say softly, "be careful or you'll fall down."

"Johnny!" Wicky said happily. The Weed ignored him.

Wicky waited for a week, while the Smithy family moved in and settled down. And then, one beautiful Monday morning, when Johnny jumped down the porch steps to go to school, Wicky took a deep breath and called out "Johnny! Johnny! Come pick me up and play with me!:

Wicky held his breath in anticipation as Johnny's footsteps slowed and he turned back to the porch. He took one step back towards the porch, then turned back around and ran to school.

Wicky sighed disappointedly. The Weed sniffed.

The day passed slowly, and Wicky could barely contain his eagerness for when Johnny would return home from school. But, finally, the little blue and red sneakers came running up the sidewalk to the house and Wicky nearly burst with joy.

"Johnny!" Wicky exclaimed, "Johnny! Come play with me!"

And suddenly, Wicky's wish came true. Johnny's feet slowly approached the porch, and then stopped. If Wicky could breathe, he would've held his breath. And slowly, for what seemed like an eternity to Wicky, Johnny knelt on the ground, and suddenly, he was peering under the porch at Wicky and The Weed.

"Did you call me?" his small, gentle voice asked, his eyes wide.

"Oh yes!" Wicky replied. "I've been waiting near forever for someone to play with me! We could have so much fun!"

A wide smile graced Johnny's face. "Oh yes!" he said. "I can see that! Ever so much fun!"

The Weed sniffed.

"And who is that?" Johnny asked politely, turning his attention to The Weed.

"Oh that is only The Weed," Wicky said, but introduced them anyway. "He is my only company here."

The Weed sniffed.

"Hm," Johnny said. And then suddenly, he reached under the porch and yanked The Weed out of the ground.

"Put me down!" The Weed shrieked. But, Johnny ignored it's screams and sighing slightly, he withdrew his hand and took The Weed with him.

Wicky stared in astonishment and then called out frantically "What's going on?! What are you doing?" Wicky stared in amazement as The Weed fell to the ground in front of him in two pieces. The Weed's bright green leaves were ragged and torn, it's stem twisted and crushed.

Wicky gasped, and then Johnny's face came into view again.

"I didn't like him much, did you?"

Wicky was silent for a moment, and then he laughed gleefully. "No! Not I! He was a dreadful thing! He wasn't much company, and he never told any jokes!"

"Shall we play?" Johnny asked.

"Oh yes!" Wicky exclaimed happily. "What shall we do first? Play catch? Perhaps make a little fort with some other lovely stones? I could sit in your room by a window, or sit for a while in a glass of water." Wicky could barely contain his excitement.

"I have a better game!" Johnny said. His fingers closed around Wickky's smooth self, and suddenly, Wicky was in the open sunlight. Wicky felt the wind rush against him and Johnny ran to the garage.

"What an adventure!" Wicky proclaimed.

And then Johnny lay Wicky down on his father's workbench and giggled joyfully. "Here we go!" he said. And he brought his father's hammer down upon Wicky once - twice - three times! And all that remained of Wicky was a pile of grey powder and shards.

The End

Friday, May 01, 2009

Christian Novel Review

The Shape Of Mercy by Susan Meissner
1400074568 / 9781400074563
A story of three women, all strangers, brought together by an old diary. Okay, so I'll never write successful tag lines for movies. Born into the wealthy Durough family, Lauren struggles everyday with her "destiny". She's not the son she believes her father always wished he had, and wants firmly to make her own mark in the world. Foregoing her family's financial assistance, Lauren takes a job as a literary assistant to Abigail, an elderly retired librarian. Lauren's task is to transcribe the journal of Mercy Hayworth, a young girl accused of being a witch in 1692. Lauren immerses herself into Mercy's life and finds herself being forced to change her own and Abigail's. Lauren ends up discovering that she is everything she thought she wasn't, and that everyone around her can see the truth that she so desperately searching for. I found a lot of the story to be contrived and cliche. There were also plot aspects that I found were unnecessary and seemed "tacked on" at the end - for example, Abigail's "lost love" story.
While I found aspects of the story compelling - mostly Mercy's historical bits - it wasn't enough for me to think of this book as one for my bookshelves.
Two balls of yarn


Three books - One author - Reviews

Thanks to Rachel, I've read four new books in the past few days...three by the same author...and here are some reviews...
*PS. None of them are the books that I promised were coming up next...slap on the wrist for me! Sorry!

Megiddo's Shadow by Arthur Slade
0006395686 / 9780006395683
A young adult story set in the time of World War One? And the Canadian prairies? What kind of magic has been bestowed upon me? The first book I've read by Arthur Slade - a Canadian (hooray!) young adult genre author. How often does one experience war and it's consequences through the eyes of a (very) young soldier? The answer: Not very. But, Slade's story of sixteen year old Edward and his journey to bring meaning to, and avenge, the death of his beloved older brother Hector, leaves you wanting more. After enlisting and leaving behind his father, Edward finds himself in a cavalry unit, making friends with his fellow soldiers, bonding with a horse, and finding love with a young nurse named Emily. However, instead of being shipped out to France, where he had hoped to find redemption for Hector's death, he finds himself at the Palestinian front. Under the scorching sun, Edward comes to the realization that war is not all glory and honour, and grows up in a very short period of time. A very definite coming-of-age story, the reader is thrown into the same place as Edward and experiences his sorrows and joys through some wonderfully descriptive passages. As much as the reader yearns for a "happy ending", I was quite pleased to see that the ravages of war are depicted truthfully, and that Edward returns home a changed person. Definitely a book I'd encourage others to read, especially amateur war buffs like myself.
Four and a half balls of yarn

Dust by Arthur Slade
0006485944 / 9780006485940
I can't even compare this novel by Arthur Slade to the previous one, as that would be apples to oranges. I really enjoy his fun use of words and his lovely writing style. What starts off as a seemingly sombre story of a missing child and his family's heart-breaking search for him, turns into a fascinating tale of fantasy and science fiction, which left me shivering with creepy delight. Told through the eyes of 11 year old Robert, Slade uses his wonderful gift for constructing vivid images through his writing, to set the reader in the hot, dry Saskatchewan farmlands. When Robert's younger brother, Matthew, disappears during a walk into town, Robert finds himself torn in two directions - to become blissfully forgetful of Matthew, as his parents have, or to struggle and continue the search for his brother, and the truth behind the mysterious new stranger, Abram Harsich, and his "miraculous" machine that will save the town from drought. Abram is a delightfully spooky villain, and like Megiddo's Shadow, there are subtle undertones of Biblical allegory. I was quite captivated until I got to the end (oops) which suddenly left me feeling a little bit cheated...almost like how I felt at the end of Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull.
Three balls of yarn

Jolted by Arthur Slade
0006395694 / 9780006395690
Again, such a different story from Arthur Slade, but I could sense the same writing style, and I love it! Fourteen-year-old Newton (brilliant name!) comes from the long line of "death by lightning" Starkers. Apart from his great grandmother, Enid, he's the last of the Starkers and has a long list of rules to "survive" by. He goes to a special school for Higher Learning and Survival in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan (yay for Canadian settings!) and ends up learning more than just how to find edible bugs in the woods. I found it all pretty brilliant! I loved the descriptive passages, the fun play with words and the creative conventions of the actual layout of the book/story - a diagram of the school's Scottish uniform, recipes (that I will be trying!), excerpts from Newton's Rules for Survival and more. Despite, or perhaps as a result of (!), his fear of his impending doom, Newton manages to form friendships (a big "no-no" from his loving, but deceased, mother), get high marks, whip up gourmet meals, and possibly experience fledgling love. I would gladly hand this to any bored reader, old or young, male or female, and almost DARE them to not enjoy it.
Four balls of yarn

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Star Wars, Wedge Ficlet - Untitled

For otahyoni

Wedge exhaled and looked out the X-wing's canopy window. All around him, the ground crew was cheering and celebrating. A brief smile appeared on his tired face as he waited for someone to place the ladder against his cockpit. After a few minutes, the thought crossed his mind that he might have to flag someone down, but a sudden thud let him know that he hadn't gone unnoticed. He opened his canopy, and a happy face greeted him.

"Welcome back, Commander! Congratulations!!!"

"Thanks...Burny," he replied, proud that he'd remembered the man's name.

The grounds crewman disappeared down the ladder, and Wedge hauled himself up. It felt good to stand. His legs were tense and he bounced up and down a few times, urging the circulation to return to his lower limbs. Making his way down the ladder, he surveyed the chaos around him. Pilots, mechanics, astromech droids, flight traffic controllers and other Rebel personnel were happily celebrating the destruction of the Death Star, and the collapse of the Empire.

His foot touched the duracrete and he was immediately surrounded by his squadron-mates. Wedge endured the good-natured back slaps and shoulder punches, laughing inside as Wes and Hobbie descended into petty bickering. Tycho stood by, grinning cheerfully. He turned to Wedge.

"We should make our way to the big party. Up in the Ewok village. Lando's waiting for us." He looked towards the hanger entrance, and Wedge followed his gaze. General Calrissian was laughing with some grounds crew, but looked up, as if he knew he was being watched, and waved at Wedge. Wedge nodded, and turned back to his friends.

"Come on Rogues...or what's left of you," he said playfully, and then stopped. Wes. Hobbie. Tycho. And himself. That was it. They were the only Rogues to survive. The four of them. And one other.

"Rogues?" Hobbie said sternly and threw an arm around Wes. "We're Reds at the moment. And Tycho is a Greenie. Are you reassembling Rogue Squadron right here, right now? Is this it? Are we it?"

Wedge shook his head and rolled his eyes. "The Force help us if the two of you made up one half of Rogue Squadron!"

"I think we our fearless leader is full of fear." Wes said slowly, and looked over at Hobbie who nodded solemnly.

"Maybe you should stay here," Wedge suggested, "and Tycho and I will join the General up in the treetops." Saying this, he motioned to Tycho and they left the two lieutenants to sulk.

"Are we really leaving them behind?" Tycho asked quietly.

"Of course not," Wedge retorted. "But, it's fun to let them think we are."

They reached Lando and the General happily shook their hands. "Come on," he said eagerly, "grab those two and let's go find the others!" Tycho nodded and ran back to collect Wes and Hobbie. "Why are they pouting?" Lando asked Wedge as they set off to the Ewok village.

"Because they can," Wedge replied and laughed. They paused and waited for the others to catch up, and then the group headed towards the music and laughter than floated down from the village in the trees.

They were greeted by Lando's co-pilot, Nien Numb, and were soon immersed in good tidings from ground troops and fellow pilots. Wedge peered over the crowds, searching for one person.

Ewoks ran around gleefully, some were playing instruments - large drums, and one had even set up a percussion set of sorts out of scavenged stormtrooper and Imperial gunner helmets. Wedge grinned wryly and slowly made his way towards the centre of the celebration. Small Ewoks danced together, their joy and happiness infectious. Even Threepio and Artoo were partaking in the festivities. Some familiar faces caught Wedge's eye.

Lando strode ahead, and laughed loudly as he saw Han Solo. The two men threw their arms around each other excitedly. Wedge watched as Chewbacca stretched out his long, hairy arms to Lando. Leia Organa stood behind them, her long hair free and she was smiling.

And then from the corner of his eye, from one of the walkways around the trees, he saw a figure clad in black walking towards the bonfires, towards them. It was Luke. The fifth remaining member of Rogue Squadron. No, Wedge corrected himself, he was the last of the Jedi now.

Luke Skywalker headed straight for Princess Leia, and the two embraced. Like brother and sister, Wedge thought idly. As they finally released their holds on each other, Wedge's view of the reunion was blocked by Lando's excited gesticulations. He was relating the space battle to Chewbacca. Wedge smirked as he recognized his X-Wing in Lando's storytelling. Now, Luke and Han were greeting each other. A quick hug, a few words, and then Luke was making the rounds.

Wedge hesitated, standing uncertainly off to the side. Luke seemed different, older. He was a Jedi, and suddenly Wedge had an uneasy feeling that maybe there wouldn't be a place in Luke's life for his old squadron mates. His path was going to be much different now, and a tiny, cold knot formed in Wedge's stomach. Luke was his friend, a good friend, and he would support him however he could, but he felt like their friendship had reached a turning point. They had been through a lot together - two Death Stars, countless skirmishes with Imperial pilots, and Wedge blinked as he realized that Luke was his oldest surviving friend. They had been thrown together by a common foe, their relationship baptized by the deaths of their fellow soldiers, and a bond had been forged that he thought would have lasted the rest of their lives. But, now, maybe Luke Skywalker, last of the Jedi Knights, wouldn't need this cocky X-Wing pilot to turn to, or have a place for Rogue Squadron in his new "career" choice. The thought grabbed hold of a tiny piece of insecurity in Wedge's mind, and curled around it, threatening to bring it forward. Wedge's smile faded and he took a step back. Perhaps it would be best to just let it be as is, and return to the other pilots. And suddenly, Luke was in front of him. A welcome handshake, and he was pulling Wedge into a hug.

"Great to see you, Wedge!" Luke said, smiling broadly, and Wedge felt his fears melt away.

"You too, Luke," he replied, a wide smile blossoming on his face.

"I knew you'd make it out," the blond man said. "I just knew you would."

"Luke!" Wes Janson's voice rang out behind them, and Wedge stepped aside for the brief reunion of Rogue Squadron. He grinned as Wes and Hobbie enfolded Luke in a collective bear hug, and breathed a reluctant sigh of relief. Everything would be fine now. He had worried over nothing. He breathed in deep, content, and looked around again.

Han and Leia found each other and Wedge smiled. It looked like those two were finally going to allow each other into their respective lives. He'd have to tell Hobbie and collect on an old bet.

An unexpected tap on his shoulder caused Wedge the turn. Han Solo, momentarily freed from the Princess' warm grasp, stood there, his hand outstretched towards the X-Wing pilot. Wedge grinned, and clasped the other Corellian's hand firmly.And then Chewbacca approached him. Inwardly, Wedge grimaced, as the Wookie's large hand engulfed his shoulder and squeezed. He released General Solo's hand and gamely shook Chewie's. He hoped he wouldn't be expected to use his blaster anytime soon...that hand was going to be sore for a while.

He watched as Luke turned away from the celebration and looked out into the dark and trees just beyond the village. A small smile played across the Jedi's face, and Wedge wondered what his friend was thinking. And then the Princess was there, pulling Luke back towards the warmth and light of the fires. Wedge stood there, happier than he'd been in a long time, gazing out at his comrades, his friends, his family. They stood together, smiling and laughing - Lando, Chewbacca, Han, Leia, Luke, and the droids - almost like a group portrait, and chuckling softly to himself, Wedge took a mental snapshot of the moment.

"Hey Boss," Hobbie said, coming up from behind him. "Did you see General Solo and the Princess? I think you owe me fifty credits."

"Me?'re the one who said it would never happen..."



"Wes was our witness, right? Wes...Wes...didn't I say that...hey Wes..."

Wedge allowed himself a chuckle. Yes, everything would be fine now.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Reviews! Hooray!

I've got a few reviews today! Been a while!

Making Money by Terry Pratchett
0552154903 / 978-0552154901
Another story taking place in Ankh Morpork, with lots of delicious goodies - like an Igor, the Patrician, some magicians, and a whole bunch of golems! Oh yes, and that ever so imaginative Moist von Lipwig. Last seen as Postmaster General (from a whole two books ago - Going Postal), he has now been elevated (albeit quite suddenly and not at all of his own making) to running AM's Mint. From one frying pan into the other, some would say! I really do enjoy seeing Vetinari scheme and plot and play puppeteer to the lives of the AM citizens without actually scheming or plotting at all! He's a master, and gee whiz, I can't help but have a bit of a crush on the powerful Patrician! I wasn't expecting the "twist" at the end with regards to the Chief Cashier, and I felt a little disappointed that he turned out to NOT be a vampire. (Whoops! Spoilers!) And whilst I do miss stories about the Witches, or Death, or other random tomfoolery, since the last one was about six books ago, Pratchett never fails to deliver the goods! The hilarious, witty goods!
Four balls of yarn

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
0316024961 / 9780316024969
I don't get why fangirls around the world love Jacob!!! :P I LOVED Twilight. I thought it was sexy and beautiful and exciting. I DON'T love New Moon, and I was warned! I WILL read Eclipse of course, but this is turning into The Matrix trilogy. One is GREAT, Two is Okay, Three is going to suck big time, I can smell it coming! Anyway, the epic love story of Bella the average, but extremely accident prone, human and Edward, the gorgeous, shiny, forever young, vampire continues...albeit...without Edward for most of the book. Instead, close friend and werewolf-in-training, Jacob becomes the love triangle instigator for Bella, and fans around the world are split into two camps: Bella/Edward and Bella/Jacob. :P Bella mopes around now that Edward has left, but only because he LOVES her...he must sacrifice their love to keep her safe. (I feel like I'm writing about The Doctor and Rose...but I digress!) Bella slowly learns to live without Edward again, but never succeeds, and suddenly old enemies reappear, and new fantasy monsters emerge! Who knew that an entire young community would turn out to be werewolves? Who knew that Bella would develop a death wish in an effort to "hear" Edward's "dad" voice? Who knew that Jacob would suddenly turn 180 and NOT be all mushy gushy over Bella - the girl of his dreams? I guess losing shoes everyday will do that to a guy! Book Two seemed SO MUCH MORE contrived than the fanciful Book One, and that's too bad. I didn't get as much angst out of it this time, although angst OOZED from the pages. The Cullens came back to Forks ever so easily, and it was just all too "pat on the back" for me. Okay, Stephenie Meyer, this is being made into a've got it made!
Two and a half balls of yarn

Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures Volume 10
1593078781 / 978-1593078782
Despite my hate on for the Star Wars prequels, some good has come out of the nonsense. The Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures comic-book series is one of them! Inspired by the Cartoon Network's Clone Wars cartoons, each volume contains four 10-ish page stories, illustrated in a vivid colour and fast-paced action, with hints of Japanese manga lurking in the background! Funny, action-filled and definitely Star Wars, Dark Horse Books has a GREAT series on the go! The four stories in Volume 10 are easy to read, and as per the usual formula it seems, one focuses directly on a recognizable Jedi Knight (this one features Obi Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker), clone troopers (one lone trooper vs. an army of battle droids!), a secondary Jedi (Ki-Adi-Mundi & Aayla Secura introduce a new [made up] Jedi), and various other Star Wars denizens (farmers on Dantooine!). These books will hold the attention of the most hardcore Star Wars fan, and the newest young boy just discovering that galaxy far, far away.
Four balls of yarn

Doctor Who: I Am A Dalek by Gareth Roberts
0563486481 / 9780563486480
Having discovered that I need a daily fix of Doctor Who, I've turned to the original novelizations. This is one of them. Labelled a "Quick Read", it is only 104 pages long, with a large sized font, that one would find in children's books for ages 6-8 (granted, Quick Reads have been MARKETED as children's books). The Daleks are back (when will we EVER be REALLY rid of them?), and only Rose and the Doctor can save the day! Of course! :) Fun and fast, it starts off just like a tv episode. Mr. Roberts, having written other Doctor Who novels and also a handful of the television episodes throughout the four seasons, handily captures the characters of the Doctor (as portrayed by the delicious David Tennant) and Rose (the ever lovely Billie Piper), and sends them back to England to save the world from a lone Dalek. It's easy to picture the two of them running around doing whatever Mr. Roberts writes, which makes this book a success. And really, throw a Dalek into the mix, and you've got classic Doctor Who. Bonus points for this line on page 76: It screamed with pleasure and joy, 'Exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate!' A sweet ending too, one that would make fans nod and say, "Yeah, the Doctor WOULD do that!"
Four balls of yarn

The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea Of Wind by Fuyumi Ono
If you've ever watched the Japanese anime based on this seven volume series, you'll be pleased to know that the producers got it spot on! Finally translated into English, Fuyumi Ono's series is a delightful and magical epic, that "explores what it meas to truly know yourself in the face of a destiny outside of your control." The first volume dealt with the red-haired heroine of the anime - Yoko, but this second volume is focused entirely on the young balck-haired kirin - Taiki. The Twelve Kingdoms is heavy with Chinese mythology and has a great deal of civil and political unrest in a land where the kings are chosen by heaven with the help of creatures called kirins, born in eggs that fall from trees. Great storms can whisk an egg away to the far off land of Japan, where the egg will "hatch" and a child will be born who knows they do not belong there, but can never understand why. Taiki is such a child, and when he is brought back to the land of Tai, he must start anew and discover his destiny as one who must choose the next king of Tai, and save the country. As with Volume One, the main character must find an inner strength, and goes through many failures in order to succeed. I love this series! Can't wait for Volume Three!
Five balls of yarn!

Coming soon: The Tiger's Egg, Star Wars: Allegiance

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007


I found out some sad news about my favourite (and yours) author - Terry Pratchett. Buggerit!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Now THAT'S an author!

How to Talk to a Bookseller: A 10-Step Guide for Authors

May 17, 2007

By Melissa Lion

At some point in any author's career she will walk into a bookstore. This could go badly. This could go well. This could go so well that like Rainbow Fish, The Lovely Bones, or The Da Vinci Code, the book will gain momentum from bookseller reviews and suddenly Julia Roberts is playing the author in the story of her life. Here are 10 steps on the Julia Roberts path. Or maybe just the shelf-talker and faced-out path.

1. Don't treat the bookseller like the help. The person behind the counter or on the floor is the most important person in the bookstore. The bookseller puts your book in customers' hands, she puts your book on display, she writes a shelf-talker, and perhaps most importantly, stands in front of your book with a returns list that has your book on it and she decides if your book gets a stay of execution on the shelf, or if it heads off to remainderville. Remainderville, despite the cute name, is not a happy place for books.

2. Take advantage of booksellers' big mouths. There's a reason publishers have "Big Mouth" lists -- booksellers gossip. Booksellers meet other booksellers at various functions. At these functions three things happen -- drinking, recommending books, and gossiping about authors. We will gossip about good things ("Khaled Hosseini smells amazing") and bad things ("The author of [fill in the blank] shuffles his feet and treated me like the help"). You want to be on the good end of this gossip, so always smell nice and speak kindly to all the booksellers in the store. And pick up your feet when you walk.

3. Ask for the appropriate person. Do not walk up to the counter and ask to speak with the manager or the owner. Customers with a problem want to speak to the owner or the manager. You want to speak with the book buyer if you want the store to carry your book. You want to speak with the events coordinator for booking an event.

4. Use the correct person's name. If you don't know the name of the events coordinator, ask the person behind the counter. As for the book buyer, you want the person who buys your type of book. "What is the name of the person who buys the spirituality books?" Follow this up with, "What is the best way to get in touch with him?" Booksellers, book buyers, bookstore owners, and managers are very busy people. Respect that method of getting in touch.

5. Do not leave a book in the bookstore that you wish to have back. Bookstores' back rooms are filled with towers of books and dust bunnies the size of alpacas. There are moldering coffee cups and one aged bookseller reminiscing about the days when books-in-print was in book form. Your book winds up here. You will only get it back with a machete and a six-pack of PBR [Pabst Blue Ribbon]. You must be willing to let your book go.

6. Be a customer at the store. If you would like a bookstore to carry your book, purchase a book there. Better yet, purchase a book the bookseller behind the counter recommends. Ask for that person's name, go find a shelf-talker by that person, walk up to that person and ask to purchase that book. When she is ringing you up, begin (politely) to ask who the book buyer is. Perhaps you can purchase two books. If you can, please do so. The only way a store can carry your book is if they stay in business. The best way ensure this is to spend money at the actual store.

7. If you are doing an event at the store, ask the audience to purchase your book. Say, "Please purchase my book." Follow this up with, "If you don't buy my book, this bookstore will think badly of me and they will not book me for an event again because they have lost money on my event because only about one-third of an audience buys a book and because the bookstore has spent money on advertising, used prime store placement space, spent hours on staffing, and will have to return the books you have not bought, at their expense." No pressure, of course.

8. Thank the booksellers. My agent has told me many times, "No matter where you find your book, it could be in the dustiest darkest corner, go to the booksellers and thank them for carrying your book." She's a wise woman.

9. Never start a sentence with "You should." As in "you should carry my book," or "you should put my book on the front table despite my book being a tome on the African Diaspora and this table being a display of Chronicle stationery and Happy Bunny books." As soon as you start this sentence, booksellers have a list of "you shoulds" that begin playing softly in their minds.

10. Don't treat the booksellers like the help. This might ring a bell. Bookselling is a labor of love. Chances are the person behind the counter is college graduate, he or she could be a chess wiz, a magician, a stand-up comedian, a nearly professional cello player, or a fellow author -- all people I've worked with (except the author, that's me). Booksellers do this job by choice. With the exception of a few CEO's no one is getting rich selling books. Booksellers love books. They love books to their detriment, resulting in small savings accounts, a predilection toward cheap beer, and the risk of one day being buried in their own homes beneath an avalanche of galleys. Think of this person's fate and then think of your book. This is who will take care of your baby. Be kind to that person, and your book will be loved and defended, often fiercely, like a six-pack of PBR.

Melissa Lion is events coordinator at DIESEL, A bookstore in Oakland, California, and the author of Swollen (Laurel Leaf) and Upstream (Wendy Lamb Books). She has been a bookseller for more than five years.


Dear the above...take note...and we'll love you forever! FOREVER!!! Authors who have FOLLOWED the above and are forever in my good books, and I will always say their book wins (even if it doesn't) are: Mitch Albom, Todd Babiak, Jennifer Duncan, and a few others who were delightful. There are more, but these three stand out in my mind. I can name those who AREN'T delightful (...cough cough...David Gilmour...cough...), but there are also many of those too... :P

Friday, November 16, 2007

Oh Oprah...

So, I meant to blog about this earlier, but I had to stop laughing first.

Oh Oprah.

She's picked her latest "pick" and any and all credibility she may have had in the literary world has fallen off a cliff and down down DOWN. She picked Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth.

Are you kidding me??? Ken Follett?

Now, having worked in a bookstore for five years, I can reasonably say that I know books. And I know Ken Follett's books. And if ANYONE is going to say that it's a worthy pick, to be up there with her others - Steinbeck, Tolstoy, Garcia Marquez, Faulkner, and even those like Buck, Paton, Eugenides, etc, then I'm a monkey's uncle.

Oh Oprah. I think you've gotten bored and are just picking books off the bestseller list. Which doesn't really mean anything. It means that any publisher with enough balls and money can throw their pet author up on the bestseller list.

Oh Oprah. Are you turning into Heather? Are you picking from books that everyone else is reading, instead of finding your own gems? Although, granted, a lot of your picks were gems before you "picked" them.

I hate "picks". I think it's stupid. I hate that it's the only way that people will read a good book...or in some cases, another not so good book.

What's next? The DaVinci Code?


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Two Books, Two Reviews

I recently finished the two books that Rachel generously purchased for me. Interestingly enough, I found similar themes in them.

Summers At Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn
044100928X / 9780441009282
A nice easy read, I was quite intrigued by the plot...up until the end.
Much of the story is dedicated to the events surrounding the marriage between the main character's sister and her betrothed. As with many court nuptuals in Elizabethan England and that time, their marriage was simply a political move by both families to form an alliance. Throughout the novel, the protagonist, Corie, discovers that she would rather marry for love, and that she no longer envies her sister's position. Throughout, there is a mystery as to who really loves who, and I found the very end of the book a bland conclusion in the romantic build. After slowly drawing the reader into the story and leaving them on the edge of their seat in hopes of "love conquering all", Sharon Shinn disappoints with a boring, uneventful ending, where the boy DOES get the girl, but a very unromantic way.
A second subplot of enforced slavery of the magical Aliora (think wood nymphs or faeies), only serves to make Corie the selfless heroine that wants nothing for herself, but for others. Her sister, Elisandra, bears a remarkable resemblance to Philippa Gregory's Katherine of Aragon.
All in all, a painless read, but don't expect the delicious romance that is woven into the story to make it's way to the end.
Two and a half balls of yarn

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
0007774486 / 9780007774487
I've been wanting to read this for quite a while now. I'm glad that it didn't turn out to put it bluntly. While I'm not sure just how much of it is fiction and how much is fact, the story of Mary Bolelyn and her sister, the infamous Anne Boleyn, was a fascinating read. Easy to get into, I couldn't put the book down once I'd started. Granted, I had to sleep. However, I stayed up past 3am to finish it last night (this morning). Everything seemed quite believable - the dialogue, the description, the politics and the characters. The rivalry between the sisters for the affection of Henry VIII is complex and very believable. The court politics of the early 1500's were vicious and cut-throat. Family members were no more than business partners, marriages were alliances, daughters were bargaining chips, and sons were prized above all, especially in the royal court. Mary, like Corie in the previous book, eventually learns that she would rather marry for love than for power, and yearns for a "common" life.
Philippa Gregory holds a PhD in 18th century literature, and her expertise shines through with this story of an ambitious family with an even more ambitious daughter. Everyone knows that Anne Boleyn was beheaded by her husband the King, but how many know how she reached that ghastly end?
The Author's Notes include a bibliography, and a small "epilogue" on Mary Boleyn's life. Anyone interested in the Elizabethan era would surely enjoy reading this novel, although I'm sure some would find flaws with the accuracy of history's portrayal. However, for those like myself, who have a strong interest but no real knowledge, The Other Boleyn Girl is an exciting and satisfying read.
Four balls of yarn

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