Looking for some summer reading? Something fun and engaging and maybe a little less than serious? I wrote just the thing!
I can’t even tell you how stoked I am about Frankefine and how it’s evolving in the last 2 weeks. I got my very first review and 5 stars no less! It totally rocked my world. It’s not only that it’s a review, and it’s so lovely but it’s a really well written, thoughtful review I could ask for!
Also I’ve moved from #210,000 something to #48,211 which is kinda crazy! I’m super stoked. I wrote this to amuse myself and to have such positive feedback is almost overwhelming. You can read the first few chapters of Frankenfine here, and even if you do not have a kindle you can download the kindle app to read this book.
ALSO! I’ve moved into double digit book sales which kind of totally rocks my world. If you’ve bought/read/barrowed my book I would do just about anything to bribe a review out of you If you review it please please please let me know!
I did something I never thought I would. I put a book I wrote up for sale on Amazon. I love this story. If I could equate it to knitting it would be akin to Outlaw or Strigose (that is almost out of testing). It just came together from nothing. It was just before Halloween when my friend Kim left a comment on my facebook status (I believe I was bemoaning the weak female character in Twilight). It amused me so much I fired off a few paragraphs…then I wrote a few more. Then before I knew it I had over a hundred and twenty thousand words.
It was at the urging of the Mr and my cousin Rebecca that I went ahead with Amazon Direct Publishing. It is very much like publishing your own patterns through Ravelry. I don’t expect a whole lot from this as the book was written mostly to amuse myself but I hope that it amuses others as well.
Like my knitting, this isn’t about the money, it’s about creating something new (and hopefully beautiful). If you are interested in the story I’d love reviews. So yeah. That’s about it. I’m kind of amazed by myself.
I have been rejected a lot over my life – as I think any other normal human being has – and mostly I try not to take it personally. I try not to be vindictive or mean spirited or hateful about it. But ya know, I am human. I have feelings and sometimes they get pinched. The thing about my rejections is that though another person might think that it is a terrible, sad, or shameful thing, I’ve decided just now, at this very moment it’s not. I’m not ashamed at all that I’ve been rejected all over the place and I’ll tell you why.
If I had not tried I would never have been rejected. And yes, it kinda stings to hear or see that you are not wanted that you “are not what we are looking for right now” but how would I have ever known that if I didn’t try in the first place? I stuck my neck out and in the end my luck didn’t really pan out. I probably scowled at the email, I might have even shed a tear or two, but chances are I moved on fairly quickly. That’s what I do, I move on. I shrug and I find something else worthy of occupying my time. I am rarely afraid of being rejected though oddly I am afraid of failing. Upon some inspection I find that the two things are not at all related. Just because you are rejected doesn’t mean you have failed, it simply means you were rejected.
The thing I must remember the most at these moments of human weakness is that I am stronger than one rejection and I am better than all of them stacked together in one place. I’ve been rejected by family (and then embarrassed in a weird manic hug that came out of nowhere), I’ve been rejected by strangers, and men, and women, and even small children. I’ve been rejected by magazines (on-line and in print), I’ve been rejected from jobs and by friends and universities. You know what though? I’ve taken more chances in my 29 years than a lot of people twice my age. I’ve moved past the “I want to…” and live deep in the heart of “I know how” or “I have”. I have bravely grabbed on to opportunities and been drug through the mud as I hung on for dear life. Some of them of turned out amazing, and some of them not so much.
I know I don’t talk about it much here because I don’t want to drone on about it and become one of those people. But here it is. I write. I know, you are all shocked terribly, being that right at this moment, you are reading my blog. But the fact is I’ve been writing more seriously now for the last year. I’ve written four full length manuscripts and am working on two more. The first started as a whim and turned into 100,000 words of something I really enjoyed. So I wrote a follow-up to that. Another 100,000 words. Then Kim (yarnyoldkim via ravelry/twitter) made a comment close to Halloween that amused me so greatly I wrote another 100,000 words around that. (I am nothing if not prolific). And now I’ve started two more tangents. The one thing I promised myself this year as way of a resolution – for I am resolute in doing this one thing among the million other things I am eager to accomplish – was that I was going to start submitting my work to agents.
It might seem like an easy thing to do. Well, if you are me, and the queen of lists and research, it’s really not. I bought a book and some highlighters, I spent a month on putting together a tight 150 word summary of my story that was both descriptive and dynamic, then I set up a timeline. I was going to submit to one agent per day till I was out of agents dealing in my genre. Seems simple right? It’s not. See, I found agents, then I looked them up on the internet to make sure I got all my details right. Turns out this whole process is like looking into a mirror and seeing the reflection from a mirror behind you and so forth. Down the rabbit hole I went and exactly a month after I started looking I sent out my first agent letter.
The next day I received my first rejection.
I’m actually a little amused by it. It was the warp speed of rejections. When I’ve submitted to Knitty.com it has taken up to 3 months to be rejected. For Interweave & Knit Scene it’s taken longer. I didn’t expect a response back for at least 4 weeks. Now it’s happened and it happened so quickly and unexpectedly that I can’t help but shrug it off. I fully expect to be rejected by 99.999% of the people I submit to. I expect that given my genre (urban fantasy) that it will be a tougher sell than say any book by Nora Roberts. But I’ve already tried, and already been rejected. The worst has already happened so I’ll just continue on.
And just to make myself (and you all maybe too) feel a little better. Here are some ridiculously awesome people who have never won a Grammy (thus technically been rejected too).
The Doors, Queen, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Snoop Dogg, The Grateful Dead, Diana Ross, The Beach Boys, Bob Marley, Janis Joplin, Buddy Holly, Rush, Guns n’ Roses, Boston, Sam Cooke, Talking Heads, The Ramones, The Everly Brothers, Patti Smith, The Sex Pistols, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Motley Crue, Kiss. Journey. The Pretenders, Morrissey, ABBA, Oasis, Curtis Mayfield, ZZ Top
You guys, I am so overwhelmed by all your kindness and your wonderful comments. I’m responding to all of them as I can. I find that if I write back all at once they tend to be generic and I hate that. So I’ve had kind of an awesome 2012 so far and it’s not even 33 days into the year! (Lets pepper this post with some goats shall we? It just makes everything better.)
1. My testers are JUST about done with my Coastal Waters Shawl which is turning out BEAUTIFULLY. They have worked so hard and so completely that this will be such an easy shawl to knit when I publish it. It is a study in slipped stitches and really fun and interesting!
2. I’ve just finished another shawl design that I’m pretty sure is one of the neatest things I’ve done because it was with out planning and just spur of the moment. I just really dig it.
3. I’m fairly certain that at least one of my goats is pregnant and that 3 of my sheep are which rocks my world.
4. I finally was able to string together 150 words for my Ariel synopsis to eventually put into an agent letter. It took the help of my wonderfully honest cousin, my best friend, and the Mr who spent a half an hour alone re-writing the last line but I think it might actually be what I’m looking for. If you’ve never tried to compress a book into 150 short words it’s pure torture. The first few attempts I had sounded as if they were written by grade school kids.
Through the eyes of the casual observer Portland may seem like just another city but just below the eco-friendly surface it’s a hub for forgotten gods, mythical creatures, and things that go bump in the night. Standing between these two worlds is the arch angel Ariel. Ariel is divine justice and keeps the peace between pantheons, creatures, and humans for as long as such things have existed. It is her job – and her job alone – to make sure that everyone who walks among humans follows the laws set down by the most powerful of her kind. Now someone or something is changing the game and setting its sights directly on the peacekeeper herself. Now not only is the lion of heaven in grave peril but the world itself.
Right now things are going pretty good and I’m pretty pleased with myself. I have some knitting to show you but I thought goats might be just the ticket
I’m not really sure where other knitters get their inspiration. I’m really bad at reading interviews because the questions asked don’t usually interest me. Plus the back and forth between interviewer and interviewee isn’t interesting as it would be if it were an actual dialogue or spiced up. With out the voice I’m just not interested and I think that’s what a lot of these articles miss, the voice. Thus, I don’t know if I might be kind of a freak in this regard but I think my husband’s video games are just absolutely beautiful. The work they put into character design and costume design is just mind-blowing. This kind of work usually ends at the gamer because who else sees it?
Well I do. The wife of the video gamer. If the game is interesting enough it’s almost like a movie I’ve watched a lot of times. That means I can knit and hang out with out actually paying attention. I’ve watched my husband play his way through the Assassin’s Creed games and I’ve always loved the costuming.
So this probably wasn’t a huge stretch…
I tried to take the idea of the cloak (yes, even the beak) and incorporate it into a wearable sweater. My goal was something different with out being costume-y.
I didn’t try to replicate the exact cloak but I did try to get the FEEL of it. The mystery, the armor. I have to tell you people, I am amazed by myself and excited about the finished sweater.
Right now I am furiously writing up the pattern for the sweater, then it will go to my amazing tech editor, then to testers. I think with so many details I really want to get this tested. I have to say, I was unsure of the shoulder flap, at first it reminded me of a cowboy’s duster but after I blocked it and seamed it to the sweater I have to tell you I love it.
The thing I think I love the most is that you can wear it as a regular sweater and it looks beautiful, but then you can throw up the hood and hide way back in it’s folds and it’s instant mystery.
I used twisted stitches to mimic gauntlets and an applied icord for the button band. Right now I’m knitting up my own and tweaking the pattern as I go. As soon as I’m done I’m sure it will be ready for testers. Maybe another month. If anyone here is interested in testing I’ll post up the link to join along, maybe I’ll even have this pattern free for a month for a knit along. Anyone game?
Next up…Fabel 3 (Thanks Aimee!)
I have to say I am extremely proud and pleased to present an original short Christmas time story by one of my all time favorite authors, Tad Williams.
I know I’ve been a little spotty with the posts but a lot of what I’m doing right now is secret knitting and then just the other day Tank ran into me while I was in the pasture and dislocated my knee! I am so badass that I put my patella back in place by myself (I’ve dislocated this knee 3 times) and thankfully was able to call my mom (who was in the house) to bring leashes for the dogs, my knee brace, and a shepherd’s crook so I could limp my way home. So yeah. I’m a gimp right now. Now without further blathering, I give you The Sugarplum Favor by Tad Williams.
(A post isn’t really a post with out a Christmas tree wearing Charlie goat is it?)
Tad Williams’ new short story collection, A Stark And Wormy Knight, is available now, worldwide, as an ebook, $4.99 (or equivalent) for one month
The following story is unique to this blog and a few others. Happy Holidays.
THE SUGARPLUM FAVOR
(A Christmas Story)
Danny Mendoza counted his change three times in while the teacher talked about what they were all supposed to bring for the class winter holiday party tomorrow. It was really a Christmas party, at least in Danny’s class, because that’s what all the kids’ families’ celebrated. Danny had his party contribution covered. He had volunteered to bring napkins and paper plates and cups because his family had some left over from his little brother’s birthday party with characters from Gabba Gabba Hey on them. He’d get teased about that, he knew, but he didn’t want to ask his mother to make something because she was so busy with his little brothers and the baby, and now that Danny’s stepfather Luis had lost his job they had a Money Situation. Danny could live with a little teasing.
Danny was going to buy a candy bar for his mother, one of those big ones. That was going to be his Christmas present to her and Danny knew how much she’d like it — he hadn’t just inherited his small size and nimble fingers from her, he’d got her sweet tooth, too. And she had just been talking about the Christmas a few years ago when Luis had a good job with the Sanitation Department and he’d brought her a whole box of See’s chocolates. Danny knew he couldn’t match that, but the last of the money he’d saved up from raking leaves in the neighborhood and walking old Mrs. Rosales’ wheezy little dog should be enough to buy a big old Hershey bar that would make Mama smile. No, what to get wasn’t a problem. The thing that had him thinking so hard as he went down the street at a hurried walk, hands shoved deep into his jacket pockets, was whether he dared to get it now or should wait another day.
In Danny’s San Jose neighborhood the Mercado Estrella was like an African water hole, not only a crucial source of nurture but also the haunt of the most fearsome predator in his 3rd grade world. Any stop at the little market meant he risked running into Hector Villaba, the big, mean fifth-grade kid who haunted Danny’s days and often his nights as well. Danny couldn’t even begin to guess how much candy and other goodies Hector had stolen from him and the other kids over the years, but it was a lot — Hector was the elementary school’s Public Enemy Number One. About half the time his victims got shoved around, too, or even hit, and none of the grown-ups ever did anything about it except to tell their humiliated sons they should learn how to fight back. That was probably because Hector Villaba’s father was a violent, drunken brute who didn’t care what Hector did and everyone in the neighborhood was as scared of him as the kids at school were scared of his son. The last time someone in the neighborhood had called the police on Hector’s dad, all their windows had been broken while they were at church and their car scratched from one end to another.
Danny was still trying to make up his mind whether to risk stopping at the market today or wait for better odds tomorrow (when class ended early because of the holiday) when he saw Mrs. Rosales walking Pinto, her little spotted dog. He almost crossed the street because he knew she’d want to talk to him and he’d spent a lot of time doing that already last week when went to her house to get Pinto nearly every day. He was too close, though, she’d seen him, and Jesus hated being rude to old people almost as much as he hated it when kids lied, or at least that was what his mama always told him. Danny wasn’t expecting much from Santa anyway, but if Jesus got upset things would probably be even worse. He sighed and continued toward her.
“Look who’s here!” Mrs. Rosales said when she saw him. “Look, Pinto mi querida, it’s your friend Danny!” But when he waved and would have passed by she told him, “Hold on a moment, young man, I want to talk to you.”
He stopped, but he was really worried that Hector and his friends might catch up if he stood around too long. “Yes, Mrs. Rosales?”
“I short-changed you the other day.” She took out a little coin purse. It took her a long time to get it open with her knobby old fingers. “I owe you a dollar.”
“Really?” Danny was astonished.
She pulled out a piece of paper that looked like it had been folded and unfolded a hundred times and handed it to him. “I know boys need money this time of year!”
He thanked her, petted Pinto (who growled despite all their time together, because Pinto was a spoiled brat) and hurried toward the market. Another dollar! It was like one of those Christmas miracles on a television show – like the Grinch’s heart growing so much it made the x-ray machine go sproing! This changed everything. He could not only buy his mom’s present, he could buy something for himself, too. He briefly considered blowing the whole dollar on a Butterfinger, his very favorite, but he knew hard candies would be a better investment — he could share them with his younger brothers, and it was Christmas-time, after all. But whatever he got, he didn’t want to wait for tomorrow, not now that he had something to spend on himself. Danny Mendoza had been candy-starved for days. Nothing sweeter than the baby’s butterscotch pudding had passed his lips that week, and the pudding hadn’t been by his own choice. (His baby sister had discovered that if she waved her spoon things flew and splattered, and she liked that new trick a lot.) If he hurried to the market he should still get there long before Hector and his friends, who had many children to harass and humiliate on their way home. It was a risk, of course, but with an unexpected dollar in his pocket Danny felt strangely confident. There had to be such a thing as Christmas luck, didn’t there? After all, it was a whole holiday about Jesus getting born, and Jesus was kind to everybody. Although it sure hadn’t seemed like a lucky Christmas when Luis, Danny’s stepfather, had lost his job in the first week of December. But maybe things were going to get better now — maybe, as his mama sometimes said, the Mendoza family’s luck was going to change.
He was even more willing to believe in miracles when he saw no sign of Hector and his friends at the market. As he walked in Christmas music was playing loudly on the radio, that “Joy to the World” song sung by some smooth television star. Tia Marisol, the little old lady who ran the place on her own since her husband died, was trying to hang some lights above the cigarettes behind the cash register. She wasn’t his real aunt, of course. Everybody in the neighbohood just called her “Tia.”
“Oye, little man,” she called when she turned around and saw him. “How’s your mama?”
“Fine, Tia Marisol. I’m getting her a present.” He made his way past the postres to the long candy rack. So many colors, so many kinds! It almost seemed to glow, like in one of those cartoons where children found a treasure-cave. When Danny was little, it was what he had imagined when the minister at the church talked about Heaven. The only better thing he had ever seen in his whole life was the huge piñata at one of his school friends’ birthday party, years and years ago. When the birthday boy knocked the piñata open and candy came showering out and all the kids could jump in and take what they want – that had been amazing. Like winning a game show on television. Danny still dreamed about it sometimes.
Danny realized that he was staring like a dummy at the rack of candy when every second the danger that Hector and his friends would arrive kept growing. He quickly examined the big Hershey bars until he found one with a perfect wrapper, a massive candy bar that looked as if it had been made special for a commercial. He would have loved to spend more time browsing — how often did he have a whole dollar to spend just on candy? — but he knew time was short, so he grabbed a good-sized handful of hard, sour candies for sucking, took several different colors of candy ropes; then, as worry grew inside him, as uncomfortable as needing to pee, he finally snatched up a handful of bubble gum and ran to the front counter.
“What’s your hurry, m’hijo?” Tia Marisol asked.
“Mom needs me,” he said, which he hoped was not enough of a lie to ruin Jesus’ upcoming celebration. After all, Mom did always need his help, especially by this time in the day when she’d been on her own with the baby and the littlest brother since morning, and had just walked the other brother home from preschool. He pulled the three dollars worth of much-counted change out of one pocket and mounded it in front of Tia Marisol, then put the Hershey bar and his own handful of candy down beside it before digging out the crumpled dollar Mrs. Rosales had given him. She slid her glasses a little way down her nose while she looked at it all.
“Where’d you get so much money, Danny?”
“Raking lawns. Taking Mrs. Rosales dog for walks.”
Tia Marisol smiled, handed him back twenty-three cents, and put everything into a paper bag. “You’re a good boy. You and your family have a happy Christmas. Tell your mama I said hello, would you?”
“Sure.” He was already halfway through the door, heart beating.
The Christmas miracle continued outside: other than a couple of young mothers with strollers and bundled-up babies, and the old men who sat on the bus bench across the street drinking from bottles in paper bags, the area around the store was still clear. Danny began to walk toward home as fast as he could without running, because he had the bag under his coat now and he didn’t want to melt Mama’s candy bar. Still, he was almost skipping, he was so happy. Joy to the world, the Lord is come…!
“Hey, Mendoza,” someone shouted in a hoarse voice. “What’s in the bag, maricon?”
Danny stopped, frozen for a moment like a cornered animal, but then he began to walk again, faster and faster until he was running. There was no question whose voice that was. Pretty much every kid in his school knew it and feared it.
“Hold up, Mendoza, or I’ll kick your ass good!” The voice was getting closer. He could hear the whir of bike tires on the sidewalk coming up behind him fast. He looked back and saw that Hector Villaba and his big, stupid friends Rojo and Chuy were bearing down on him on their bikes, and in another second or two would ride him down. He lunged to the side just as Hector stuck out his foot and shoved him, sending Danny crashing into the low wire fence of the house he was passing. He bounced off and tumbled painfully to the sidewalk as Hector and his gang stopped just a few yards ahead, now blocking the sidewalk that led Danny home. The hard candies had fallen out of his bag and were scattered across the sidewalk. He got down on his knees, hurrying to pick them up, doing everything he could to avoid eye contact with Hector and the others, but when he reached for the last one Hector’s big, stupid basketball-shoe was on top of it. The older boy leaned over and picked it up. “Jolly Rancher, huh? Not bad. Not great, but not bad.” He waved it in Danny’s face, making him look up from all fours like a dog at its master. “I asked you what’s in the bag, Mendoza?”
“Nothing! It’s for my mama.”
“For your mama? Oh, iddn’t dat sweet?” Hector’s fingers hooked under Danny’s chin and lifted. Danny didn’t fight — he knew it wasn’t going to help — but he still flinched when he saw Hector’s round, sweaty face so close, the angry, pale yellow-brown eyes. Hector Villaba even had the beginnings of a real mustache, a hairy smudge on his upper lip. It was one of the things that made him so scary, one of the reasons why even bigger twelve year olds like Chuy and Rojo let him lead them — a fifth-grader with a mustache!
“C’mon, open it up,” Hector told him. “Let’s see what you got for your mama.” When Danny still didn’t offer up the bag, Hector’s friend Chuy put a foot on Danny’s back and pushed down so hard that Danny had to brace himself to keep from being shoved against the sidewalk. “I said show me, maricon,” said Hector. “Chuy gonna break your spine. He knows karate.”
Danny handed Hector the bag, biting his lip, determined not to cry. Hector pulled out the big Hershey Bar. “Hijole!” he said. “Look at that! Something for your mama, shit — you were going to eat that all by yourself. Not even share none with us. That’s cold, man.”
“It is for my mother! It is!” Danny pushed up against Chuy’s heavy hiking boot trying to reach the candy bar, which didn’t look anywhere near so huge clamped in Hector Villaba’s plump, dirty fingers. Chuy took his weight off for a moment, then kicked Danny in the ribs hard enough to make him drop to the concrete and hug himself in pain.
“If you try any more shit, we’ll hurt you good,” said Hector, laughing as he unwrapped the candy bar. He tossed a piece to Chuy, then another to Rojo, who grabbed it out of the air and shoved it in his mouth like a starving dog, then licked his fingers. Hector leaned down and gave Danny another shove, hard enough to crash him against the fence again. “Don’t you ever try to hide anything from me. I know where you live, dude. I’ll come over and slap the bitch out of you and your mama both.” He pointed to the hard candies still clutched in Danny’s hands. “Get that other shit, too, yo,” Hector told Rojo, and the big, freckled kid bent Danny’s fingers back until he surrendered it all.
The Christmas chocolate bar, looking sad and naked with half its foil peeled away, was still clutched in Hector’s hand as he and his friends rode away laughing, sharing the hard candy out of the bag.
For a while Danny just sat on the cold sidewalk and wished he had a knife or even a gun and he could kill Hector Villaba, even if it made Jesus unhappy for weeks. At that moment Danny almost felt like he could do it. The rotten, mean bastard had taken his mom’s present!
At last Danny wiped his eyes and continued home. It was starting to get dark and the wind was suddenly cold, which made his scratched-up hands ache. When he reached the apartment he let himself in, dropped his book bag by the door, then called a greeting to his mama feeding Danny’s baby sister in the kitchen as he hurried on to the bathroom so he could clean up his scratches and tear-stained face and do his best to hide the damage to the knees of his pants before she saw him up close. It wouldn’t do any good to tell her what had happened – she couldn’t do anything and it would make her very sad. Danny was used to keeping quiet about what went on between home and school, school and home.
After a while he went out and sat at the table and watched as his mother fed green goop to the baby. Even her smile for Danny looked tired. Mama worked so hard to keep them all fed and dressed, hardly ever yelled, and even sang old songs from Mexico for Danny and his brothers when she wasn’t too tired…
And now that cabron Hector had stolen her present, and he didn’t have any money left to get her something else.
Later that night, when the house was quiet and everyone was asleep, Danny found himself crying again. It was so unfair! What had happened to the Christmas luck? Or did that kind of thing only happen to other kids, other families?
“Please, Jesus,” he prayed quietly. “I just have to get Mama something for Christmas – something Hector can’t take. If that’s a miracle, okay – I mean, I know you can’t do them all the time, but if you got one…an extra one…”
Something woke him up – a strange noise in the living room. For a moment he lay in bed wondering if Santa Claus might have come, but then he remembered it was still three days until Christmas. Still, he could definitely hear something moving, a kind of quiet fluttery sound. His brothers were both sprawled in boneless, little-boy sleep across the mattress they shared, so he climbed carefully over them and made his way out to the living room. At first he saw nothing more unusual than the small Christmas tree on top of the coffee table, but as he stared, his eyes trying to get used to the dark, he saw the tree was…moving? Yes, moving, the top of the pine wagging like a dog’s tail.
Danny had never heard of a Christmas tree coming to life, not even in a TV movie, and it scared him. He picked up the tennis racket with the missing strings Luis kept promising to fix, then crawled toward the scraggly tree with its ornaments of foil and cut paper.
As he got closer he could see that something small was caught in the tree’s topmost branch, trying to fly away but not succeeding. He could hear its wings beating so fast they almost buzzed. A bird, trapped in the apartment? A really big moth?
Danny looked for one of the baby’s bowls to trap it, then had a better idea and crept to the kitchen cabinet where his mom kept the washed jars. He picked a big one that had held sandwich spread and slithered commando-style back to the living room. Whatever the thing was, it was really stuck, tugging and thrashing as it tried to free itself from the pine needles. He dropped the jar over it and pulled carefully on the branch until the thing could finally get free, then Danny clapped the lid on the jar to keep it from escaping.
The thing inside the jar went crazy now, flying against the glass, the wings going so fast that it made it hard for him to see for certain what it was. The strange thing was, it actually looked like a person — a tiny, tiny little person no bigger than a sparrow. That was crazy. Danny knew it was crazy. He knew he had to be dreaming.
“What are you doing?” the thing said in a tiny, rasping voice. It didn’t sound happy at all. “Let me go!”
Danny was so startled to hear it talk that he nearly dropped the jar. He held it up to the light coming in from the street lamp to get a better look. The prisoner in the jar was a little lady — a lady with wings! A real, honest-to-goodness Christmas miracle! “Are you…an angel?” he asked.
“Let me out, young man, and we’ll talk about it.” She didn’t sound much like an angel. Actually, she sounded a lot like that scratchy-voiced nanny on that TV show his mama watched sometimes. Her hair was yellow and kind of wild and sticky-uppy, and she wore a funny little dancing dress. She was also carrying a bag over her shoulder like Santa did, except that hers wasn’t much bigger than Danny’s thumb .
“P-Promise you won’t fly away?” he asked this strange small person. “If I let you out?”
She had her tiny hands pressed up against the inside of the jar. She shook her head so hard her little sparkly crown almost fell off. “Promise. But hurry up — I don’t like enclosed places. Honest, it makes me want to scream. Let me out, please.”
“Okay. But no cheating.” He unscrewed the lid on the jar and slowly turned it over. The tiny lady rose up, fluttering into the light that streamed through the living room window.
“Oh, that’s so much better,” she said. “I got stuck in a panoramic Easter egg once, wedged between a frosting bunny and a cardboard flower pot. Thought I was going to lose my mind.”
“Wow,” he said. “Who are you? What are you?”
She carefully landed on the floor near his knee. “I’m a sugarplum fairy,” she said. “Like in that ballet.”
“Never mind. Look, thanks for getting me loose from that tree.” She turned herself around trying to look down at herself. “Rats! Ripped my skirt. I hate conifers.” She turned back to Danny. “I didn’t mean to scare you, I was just passing through the neighborhood when I felt somebody thinking candy thoughts — real serious candy thoughts. I mean, it was like someone shouting. Anyway, that’s what we do, us sugarplum fairies — we handle the candy action, especially at Christmas time. So I thought I should come and check it out. Was it you? Because if it was, you’ve got the fever bad, kid.” She reached into her bag and produced a lollypop bigger than she was, something that couldn’t possibly have fit in there. “Here, have one on me. You look like you need it.”
“Wow. Wow!” He suddenly realized he was talking out loud and dropped his voice, worried that he would wake up his mama and Luis. He reached out for the lollypop. “You’re really a fairy. Do you know Jesus?”
She shrugged. “I think he’s in another department. What’s your name? It’s Danny, isn’t it?”
He nodded. “Yeah.” It suddenly struck him. “You know my name…?”
“I’ve got it all written down somewhere.” She started riffling through her bag again, then pulled out something that looked like a tiny phone book. She took out an equally small pair of glasses, opened the book and began reading. “For some reason you fell off the list here, Danny. No wonder you’re so desperate — you haven’t had a sugarplum delivery in quite a while! Well, that at least I can do something about.” She frowned as she took a pen out of the apparently bottomless bag and made a correction. “Of course, they may not process the new order until early next year, and I’m not scheduled back in this area until Valentines Day.” She frowned. “Doesn’t seem fair…” A moment later her tiny face brightened. “Hey, since you saved me from that tree branch I think I’m allowed to give you a wish. Would you like that?”
“Really? A wish?”
“Yes. I can do that.”
“You’ll give me a wish? Like magic? A wish?”
She frowned again. “Come on, kid, I know you’ve been shorted on candy the last couple of years but is your blood sugar really that low? I just very clearly said I will give you a wish. We’re allowed to when someone helps us out.”
He was so excited he could barely sit still. It was a Christmas miracle after all, a real one! “Could I wish for, like, a million dollars?” Then even if Luis didn’t find another job for a while, the family would be okay. More than okay.
She shook her head. “Sorry, kid, no. I only do candy-related wishes. You want one of those extra big gummy bears? I hear those are popular this year. I could bend some rules and get it to you by Christmas.”
He was tempted — he’d seen an ad on television — but now it was his turn to shake his head. “Could I just get a big Hershey bar? One of those extra-big ones? For my mother?”
The little woman tilted her head up so she could see him better from where she stood down on the ground. “Truly? Is that all you want? Gee, kid, I could feel the desperation coming off this house like weird off an elf. You sure you don’t want something a little more…substantial? A pile of candy, maybe? A year’s supply of gumdrops or something? As long as it’s candy-related, I can probably get it done for you, but you better decide quick.” She pulled quite a large pocket watch on a chain out of her bag, then put on her glasses again. “After midnight, and I’ve still got half my rounds to go.” She looked up at him. “You seem like a nice kid, Danny, and it doesn’t look like you guys are exactly swimming in presents and stuff. How about a nice pile of candy, assorted types? Or if you’d rather just concentrate on — what did you say, Hershey Bars? — I could probably arrange a shopping bag of those or something…”
For a moment his head swam at the prospect of a grocery bag full of giant chocolate bars, more than Hector the Butt-head Villaba could ever dream of having now matter how much he stole…but then another idea came floating up from deep down in Danny’s thoughts – a strange, dark idea.
“Can you do all kinds of wishes? Really all kinds?”
“Yeah, but just one. And it definitely has to be candy-related. I’m not a miracle worker or anything.”
“Okay. Then I’ll tell you what I want.” Danny could suddenly see it all in his imagination, and it was very, very good.
The school holiday party was nice. Danny and his classmates played games and sang songs and had a snack of fruit and cheese and crackers. Nobody brought Chips Ahoy cookies, but one of the mothers did indeed bring cupcakes, delicious chocolate ones with silver, green and red sprinkles for Christmas. There were even enough left over that although Danny had finished his long ago despite making it last as long as possible, he was allowed to take home the last two for his little brothers. He suspected that the teacher knew his family didn’t have much money, but for this one day it didn’t embarrass him at all.
After the bell rang Danny followed the other third-graders toward the school gate, holding one cupcake carefully in each hand, his book bag draped over his shoulder. He was watching his feet so carefully that he didn’t see what made the other children suddenly scatter to either side, but as soon as he heard the voice he knew the reason.
“Look at that, it’s Maricon Mendoza, yo,” said Hector Villaba. “What’d you bring us for Christmas, kid?” Danny looked up. The mustached monster was sitting astride his bike just a few yards down the sidewalk, flanked by Rojo and Chuy. “Oh, yeah, dude — cupcakes!” said Hector. “You remembered our Christmas presents.” He scooted his bike forward until he stood directly over Danny, then reached out for the cupcakes. Danny couldn’t help it — he jerked back when Hector tried to take them, even though he knew it would probably earn him another bruising.
“Punch the little chulo’s face in,” Rojo suggested. Hector dropped his bike with a clatter. The other kids from school who had stopped to stare in horrified fascination jumped out of his way as he strode forward and grabbed the cupcakes out of Danny’s hands. He peeled the paper off one and shoved the whole cupcake in his mouth, then tossed the other to Chuy. “You two split that,” he said through a mouthful of devil’s food, then turned his attention back to Danny, who was so scared and excited that he felt like electricity was running through him. “Next time, you better remember to bring one for each of us, Mendoza. You only bring two, that’s going to get your ass kicked.”
Danny backed away. It was hard to look into those yellow-brown eyes and not run crying, let alone keep thinking clearly, but Danny did his best. He dropped his book bag to the ground and out fell the stringless tennis racket that he had brought from home. Hector hooted with angry laughter as Danny snatched it up and held it before him as if it was a cross and Hector was a vampire.
“Que? You going to try to hit me, little boy?” Hector laughed again, but he didn’t sound happy. He didn’t like it when people stood up to him. “I’ll take that away from you and beat your ass black and blue, Mendoza.” The bully took a step nearer and held out his hand. “Give it to me or I’ll break your fingers.”
“No.” Danny wasn’t going to step back any farther. He lifted the racket, waved it around like a baseball bat. It was old and flimsy, but he had come to school determined today. “You can’t have it…you fat asshole.”
Behind Hector, Rojo let out a surprised chortle, but Hector Villaba didn’t think it was funny at all.
“That’s it,” he said, curling his hands into fists. “After I kick your ass, I’m gonna rub your face in dog shit. Then I’m gonna kick your ass again. You’re gonna spend Christmas in the hospital.” Without warning, he charged toward Danny.
Danny stepped to the side and swung the racket as hard as he could, hitting Hector right in the stomach. With a whoop of surprise and pain Hector bent double, but when he looked up he didn’t look hurt, just really, really mad, his eyes staring like a crazy dog’s eyes.
“That’s…it. I’m…going…to…get…you…Mendoza…” he said, then sucked in air and stood up straight, but even as he did so a funny expression crossed his face and he looked down at where he was holding his belly. Hector’s hands were suddenly full of crackling, cellophane-wrapped hard candies, so many of them that they cascaded over his fingers and onto the ground. He lifted his hands in disbelief to look and dozens more of the candies slid out of the front of his open jacket — candy bars, too, fun-size and even regular ones, Snickers bars, Mounds, Tootsie Rolls, lollipops, candy canes, even spicy tamarindos. The other children from the school stared in horrified fascination, guessing that Danny had broken a bag that Hector had been carrying under his coat. They were so scared of Hector that they didn’t move an inch toward any of the candy that was still slithering out of the big boy’s coat and pooling on the ground at his feet.
“Oh, man,” one of the other third graders said in a hoarse whisper, “Mendoza’s going to get beat up so bad…!”
But even more candy was pouring out of Hector’s belly now, as if someone had turned on a candy-faucet, a great river of sweets running out of the place where Danny had knocked him open with his old tennis racket.
“What the…?” Then Hector Villaba looked down at himself and began to scream in terror. Candy was showering out of him faster and faster onto the sidewalk, already piled as high as the cuffs of his pants and still coming.
“Hijole, dude!” said Rojo. “You’re a piñata!”
Hector looked at him, eyes rolling with fear, then he turned sprinted away down the street squealing like a kindergartner, a flood of candy still pouring from him, Crunch Bars, M&Ms, (plain and peanut) as well as boxes of gumdrops and wax-wrapped pieces of taffy, all raining onto the street around the bully’s legs and feet, bouncing and rolling.
Rojo and Chuy watched Hector run for a moment, then turned to stare at Danny with a mixture of apprehension and confusion. Then turned from him to look at each other, came to some kind of agreement, and threw themselves down on their knees to start scooping up the candy that had fallen out of Hector Villaba. Within a few seconds the other school kids were all scrambling across the ground beside them, everybody shoveling candy into their pockets as fast as they could.
Danny waited until he wasn’t breathing so hard, then started for home, following the clear trail of candy that had gushed from Hector Villaba as he ran. He didn’t bother to pick up everything, since for once in his life he could afford to be selective. He stuffed one pocket of his jacket with candy for his brothers, then filled the other just with Butterfinger Bars, at least six or seven, but kept walking with his head down until he spotted a nice, big Hershey Bar in good condition which he zipped in his book bag so it would stay safe for his mother. The rest of the way home he picked up whatever looked interesting and threw it into the book bag too, until by the time he reached home he was staggering with its weight up the apartment building walkway. For once, Hector Villaba had been the one who had run home crying.
He didn’t feel sorry for Hector, either, not at all. Scared as the fifth-grader was now, he would be all right when he reached home. Danny had made that a part of the wish and the fairy had said she thought it was a good idea. Jesus didn’t want even mean kids to die from having their guts really fall out, Danny felt pretty sure, so he had done his best not to spoil the Lord’s birthday. Of course Hector Villaba probably wouldn’t have a very merry Christmas, but Danny had decided that Jesus could probably live with that.
When I first sat down this rainy morning after my husband left for work I didn’t expect to finish a book before it was time to let the sheep out into the pasture. I didn’t expect that one of the books I had bought – based mostly on cover art I’ll admit – in Minnesota would turn out to be so completely fantastic and moving. See, I’ve been having a rough time with books lately. I like to push myself outside of what I normally would read. “Try something different, something smarter Preita,” I’d tell myself and then I’d be disappointed. Seems as though I’m not really a “smart” reader. I pick up a book and expect it to entertain me. Weird I know.
So I combed the racks of Uncle Hugo’s Sci Fi and Fantasy book shop looking for things I hadn’t seen before. Not as hard as you’d imagine because frankly the selection at most nation wide book super stores is rather limited. You can go in expecting to find Neil Gaiman, Patrick Rothfuss, Tad Williams, Robbin Hobb, and more other big names. This is your selection so if you are a fast reader and have already read these you are kind of screwed. I miss Uncle Hugo’s since I moved out of Minnesota. It’s a fantastic shop that will surprise you with something new each time.
So I picked up this small little hard cover book with a great graphic cover. It was an anomaly in size and structure which I appreciate. After giving the summary a quick read I added it to my small pile of travel books. unfortunately I did not read this book first. I picked something else that was going to be my first book of the trip and frankly, I can’t even now after 3 weeks of having finished it, tell you if I really liked it.
A Monster Calls is unlike anything I have ever bought. Not only is it a short 200 some odd pages but it’s fully illustrated with beautiful graphic black and white images that are just stunning. This book has brought back what books once were. I couldn’t help while reading A Monster Calls to think about how this very practice would enhance just about every book I’ve ever read. The effect is stunning and moving. It brings more than just words, it evokes emotions in you on a deeper level. The illustrator was perfectly paired with the author and together they made one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read.
In A Monster Calls you follow Collin, a young man who’s mother is fighting a losing battle with cancer. In the midst of this heart break a yew tree transforms into a gigantic monster to tell Collin three tales, each beautiful and heart breaking in their own way. In the end Collin tells the monster his own tale and we find out why the monster actually came to call.
The reader should not be distracted by the size of this book, though small it has packed a serious punch and Patrick Ness is a true artist in every sense of the word. He has created a tale that is endearing to the reader, unpredictable, original, and marvelously captivating. A Monster Calls is a true gem, it’s just truly a beautiful tale that I think everyone should read. I think it’s probably every authors ambition to create a story that hits the reader so deep. Bravo to Mr. Ness for bringing such an amazing tale into the world.
Well, some are I guess by the game of numbers, but for the sake of my post I’m not talking about those cross overs.
For the last few months I’ve been following more and more authors either on twitter or on facebook. I’m always interested in to how their minds work, how they write, and what their styles are. There have been some lovely experiences and there have been some that have made me feel bad about myself, what I read, and what I write. When the first post came through I frowned and thought that it was just a bad day this person must surely be having. We all have those, we all post about them in one way or another and then we move on. The world understands.
Then the posts became more frequent and frankly, more hateful. I unfollowed this particular person on twitter and am now contemplating doing the same with facebook. Is it life changing? Not at all. Is it frustrating? Sort of. The posts in themselves are not as terrible as I’m sure others could be but the nature of them I feel was that of a 13 year old boy not getting enough attention. This particular author calls out others by name (but not enough to link them so that the author would know about it), calling their work dumb, uninspired, and the readers of that particular book vapid. (He did not actually call them ‘vapid’ but I inferred that). This post has happened twice in the last week’s time, and more like it prior. I’ve had enough. I’m a polite person (usually) by nature and I believe that each person should be treated with respect and dignity. This kind of behavior rubs me wrong in all sorts of ways.
Frowning at this post, this tiny snippet of nothingness asking his followers to forsake this “crappy” book for one by another (which I have read and haven’t written a review because I still don’t know if I actually LIKE it) made me think…”This guy obviously doesn’t knit.”
That’s pretty random right? Well not so much. Knitters as a community understand each other I think at a more base level than any other sort of hobby community. We all do the same exact thing. You can’t knit any better than anyone else. You can have projects that turn out better but you can’t actually knit better. Why? Because the knit stitch for you is exactly the same as it is for me or for the Queen of England (does she knit? I think it’d be lovely if she did!). It’s the same. The yarn may be different, the gauge, and the drape but it’s all the same stitch. Sure, some projects turn out better than others but it’s all relative.
Give two knitters the same skein of yarn, the same gauage and ask them to make plain socks and you will come out with two pairs of perfectly wearable socks. I very much doubt that one would be a clear winner. And here’s the serious kicker, even if there was both knitters are gracious about it and will not draw attention to it.
Knitters are kind to each other even if we don’t care for the project being worked on we appreciate the spirit of the knit. I’ve never before heard a knitter call out another for a crappy project. (Crazy design is different mind you). Never have I read a post that would declare that all knitters knit this sock over that other sock because it is “smarter”. How crazy would you sound if you publicly declared a sound knitable design that brought hours of pleasure “stupid”? Knitters would laugh at you and tell you that you have missed the whole point. Not everything has to be entrelac fair isle complicated just to bring pleasure, people, we love the garter stitch because of it’s ease and sometimes, it’s just the right thing.
I think the world would be a better place if more people knit. They’d push aside this nasty better than you attitude and realize that a knit is a knit for everyone and a purl is just the back side of a knit. No matter the arrogance you knit with, your stitch is still the same as mine and they are both equally as good.
Let’s remember to get off each other’s cases, pick each other up, and knit.
First of all, thank you so much for all the nice comments on my Frankenfine short. It’s kinda eating my brain right now and I have dropped about 20,000 words in the day & a half since I wrote those first few paragraphs and am now taking a short break.
Also, has anyone had any experience publishing with Amazon? I don’t mean self publishing, I mean real publishing, if so I’d love to talk to you!
So yeah, on to the real reason of the post. The Mr and I went camping with the dogs to the Cape of Disappointment. Basically, for those of you not in the know, the Cape of Disappointment is where Lewis & Clark first camped when they reached the Pacific ocean. They found it…Disappointing.
It was amazing. Our campsite backed up to the beach and though the raccoons were crazy bad we had an amazing time. We experienced another disrepsectful dog owner who thought that leashes were for other people but other than that it was amazing!
We found a rope on the beach which meant that we had an instant toy.
One thing that surprised me was the dogs and their rock climbing. I’m not a rock climber or hopper by any means. I just am not that balanced on my feet. Kodiak though is amazing. He’s like super rocket dog and totally fearless.
we went to the Sea Side Aquarium which was small and a little campy but neat. They had seals that you could feed for a dollar and let me tell you, those seals were SPLASHY. Some splashed to get your attention, some splashed to get fed, some just splashed you. It was adorable.
I also saw this which still makes me laugh. Yes, make sure to continue to keep hoeing (because your pimp might be mad if you don’t!)
We learned all about light houses which are frankly cool.