Page the Second


A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Today I'm reviewing a book by my good friend Theresa Sneed called ELIAS OF ELDERBERRY.

This is an allegory of life; before, during, and after this existence, in my opinion. Instead of pre-Earth humans awaiting a long-anticipated turn to go down and get their fleshy envelope, we have fairies taking on human form. We have the wizards of a special family caught up in an epic battle between good and evil in a bid to save humanity from the clutches of Sirusas, who will stop at nothing to possess the power he craves. He's already got their big brother locked away. Those wizards are having to learn the ropes (just as we are in this book) because of spells which have caused them to forget all to save their lives until they were ready to defend themselves.

The story? A strange boy at Elias' school hands him a scroll which turns out to be very powerful and magical. He's all set to ask for his own baby dragon and a spate of other wacky wishes, when he gets zapped to a magical castle, only to find out he has not only a brother, but three or four, plus a grandfather older than dinosaurs and a whole bunch of new fairy friends. Not only that, but he's inherited his own powers...and a very powerful enemy.

I enjoyed this take on the whole life-on-earth spectrum. The action sizzled and the story sparkled. Great twists!

At times the book got a little confusing as the main characters tried to navigate through the pitfalls of their learning process. I'm sure those characters would agree that they spent most of their time being utterly discombobulated. And the ending was rather abrupt--quite the cliffhanger. Also I was confused about the lack of curiosity about family members (I thought they once mentioned a sister but never heard another peep about her. We never heard much at all about their parents either. I thought that tidbit sort of wretched. I personally would have asked immediately about my mother, father, and siblings as soon as I knew I had some sort of family, and not stopped asking until they'd told me everything about them.)

There were zero nasty words.
Zilch on the sexy scale.
Some sword pokes and explosions.
A teacup of death.
A smidgeon of rebirth.
Lovely magical fu.
Sweet gadget fu.
Dastardly villain fu.
And a possible prodigal son.

ELIAS OF ELDERBERRY is a romp. You can purchase it here.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Porch Debacle

Yeah, it was almost this bad.
 Yesterday I cleaned off the front porch. Now to you that might be a normal thing to do. Heck, you can probably eat directly off your porch. But for me, the junk took on sentience and was lying in wait to eat an unsuspecting visitor. I could sense the latent vengence growing.

Then it started raining on all that crap and I figured if I didn't want it to be complete muck, I'd have to deal with it. The thing is, The Hubs gets angry when I straighten up the shed or the walk-in or the porch. He says he has everything just where he wants it, although he often grouses about not being able to find things. In my head I'm always grumbling, "Look down, look down. You're standing in your...crud."

So I snapped. I took my mental health in hand and just did it. Luckily there were no domestic dispute calls to the cops. In fact The Man was pretty much okay with it after I timidly queried him. No kidding. I nearly fainted. (He's really not an ogre. He just likes his stuff a certain way...that I don't.)

The other problem (besides questionable insect life and the occasional four foot rattlesnake or pack rat) is that the temperature is distinctly oven-like, if you have steam incorporated. Maybe more like a sauna. We're talking the inside of an underwater volcano here. So doing anything outdoors for any length of time necessitates a gallon of ice cream, a half hour cold (relative since water here never gets below about 80 degrees) shower, and a three hour nap.

The Christmas lights were a huge part of the mountain. I don't usually deal with them since the year I neatly wound them up and stowed them in a bin. Apparently I broke a light or two, rendering the strings inert. Of course that breakage couldn't have happened between May when we took the lights down and October when I packed them nicely away.

Another ingredient of Mt. St. Murphy was The Hubs' empty box collection. Now at times those boxes come in handy. But when they've been rained on for several months, the boxes get all Stachybotrus-y and shredded, rendering them useless. He gets upset at me when I put them in the shed, since they get in the way of his tool collection spread felicitously all over the floor. I guess I'll just have to "use them up."

Various tools, rusty nails, and sharp bits of duct work metal provide foot mines for the uninformed barefooted and very intrepid person. (He's re-doing our roof and also installing new ductwork for our new cooler he put in. He's a very Very handy guy. I'm quite lucky to have him. Until he's done with that, though, we keep cans in our hall for those lovely impromptu roof hole fountains.)

And lastly the camping gear, baking in the grueling sun. Ah yes. One always wants to find out that their tent has been baked full of large holes, during a downpour of Noah-like proportions when they are far from home and everything in their backpack is sitting under one of those downspouts. We wonder why nobody wants to share a tent with us.

At any rate, the front porch is pristine, now. The junk is accessible and readily available. And I shall now go hang the laundry. And make plans for making the back porch livable again. There might even be a yard back there we can use for something other than to hold our gracefully-used-but-at-this-moment-non-functioning-nor-ever-will-run-again-if-we're-being-totally-honest station wagon and collection of old Christmas tree stumps.

If only our junker looked this pretty.
I'm really not a red-neck. Really. I mean, I do like banjos and practical jokes, but I'm not poor white trash. Yeah. Sticking with that.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Free Willy

The summer of 2014 is dying an early death. Although I get very little writing done when my kids are home, I morn its passing. Summer is for regeneration. It's for restarting the engines and making a fresh start.

I feel our school district has robbed my children of precious moments. We no longer have enough time to go on a family trip because the schools want to show our kids more R-rated movies and other trash. Do I sound angry? I am. It would be different if the school had an outstanding program to offer. But they don't. In fact my son has moved to another school in search of a better program. I hope his search will be rewarded with more than an extra hour of driving every day for his mother.

Summer is for working hard at your first life guard gig or mowing lawns or growing things. It's for reading piles and piles of library books. It's for wandering down a mist-shrouded beach to watch the dolphin pod as it works its way up the coast. It's for lying back in the tall grass and watching clouds sail across the sky. It's for that moment when you reach the peak and you can finally shrug out of your pack and gaze into the wind and out across the ranks of tree-clad mountains. It's for smelling the grass as you raise your bat in your first ballgame.

I'm not one of these moms who doesn't care about my children's future. But I have seen up close what this district has to offer. And it doesn't cut it. I feel as if our children are being wrenched from us to be loaded into stock trucks instead of being taught vital information they'll need in colleges and universities. They won't be good for anything but flipping burgers when they get out of todays schools. They certainly won't be fit to solve their own problems or use their imaginations in useful ways.

Give our children back their summer. And stop trying to shove them into holding bins to be babysat instead of teaching them.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Glorious Lexicography

I plunk my ever-widening derrière into the seat at my desk and pound away at the keys on a nearly daily basis. I fill with verbiage letters to friends, three blogs, a couple of networking sites, and, thus far, nineteen books in varying forms of pajama-undress. Often I concoct scenes while hanging the laundry or driving somewhere.

Now and then I have a chance to contemplate what I do. At times discouragement looms on the horizon as I obsess over how many people aren't reading what I have to say. Why is it a single dad writing about dating woes or a style maven talking about the right purse with the right outfit get thousands of readers and I with my wild variety have only a dedicated few? Why do I have such a backlog of orphaned books waiting for publishing parents?

I shrug. Perhaps I'm doing it wrong. Perhaps I should be offering style tips (laughable as I'm the poster child for frump) or helpful relationship hints (also laughable since I'm still trying to forge a way through the marital ice myself) or non-stop blog hops and raffles. Maybe I should spend more of my time courting those 'parents' who will love my babies as I do.

Or not. At best they'll have to share the trip. This chair is where I live. This is where I stand, mental pith helmet firmly strapped to my head, hiking boots laced securely, as I gaze out over the vast escarpment, past rank on rank of whispering trees to the purpling mountains beyond. If you want, you can join me on Mars or a tour of the smoke vents at the bottom of the Marianas trench. We can go barrel racing or shoot aliens in deep space. My latest book will involve synesthesia.

Welcome to my world. Now get your SCUBA gear and your snowshoes and let's go.