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Archive for November, 2010

Dear Hamish,

I am sorry to hear about the chocolate.  I don’t know where the twins got it from.  They are not supposed to walk along the road.  You know how drivers are.  That’s the only place I can think where they found it unless they visited the local school where the farmer’s children go, but that is too far and the twins are too lazy.  The chocolate should wash out.  Maybe if you sit in a puddle long enough.

I rode the camel.  It was an adventure and I did not faint once!  Even Pawnee Kitty was impressed.

We were let off at the pasture and told we had to make our own way home.  Then we waded through the weeds, squeezed through the fence and walked over the pasture.  I would have sampled some, but it is too close to the road.  The diesel and petrol fumes blanket it.  You know how it is when you taste a bit of grass right by the road – like eating right from within the petrol tank.

“You do have a plan?”  I asked Pawnee Kitty.

“Of course.”

You should know by now, Hamish, that she fibs frightfully and I did not believe her at all.

“What is the plan?”

“You’ll see.”

“There will be no launching of me body,” I warned.

“No launching.”  She stopped and began waving her paws.  She called out a few times and a horse wandered over to sniff us.  “Grab the mane.”

“What?”

“Grab the mane.”  I did.  She did.  The horse lifted his head and we made our way down the neck to the back.

“Is this how I’m going to get on the camel?”

“No.  This is how we get on a horse.  This way or from a tree or fence post.  Now let me get the nice horsie to take us to the camel.”  She clicked with her tongue and the horse walked over to the camel.  That’s when I thought that maybe this is not such a good idea.  But I had to be brave, Hamish.  I’ve always wanted to ride a camel.  Think how this will impress any potential sweeties.  I can accidentally flash me picture about and the pretty ewe will ask: What’s that?  Och, I’ll reply.  ‘Tis just me on a camel.  You’re so brave, she’ll say and she’ll flutter her eyelashes at me.  She’ll have beautiful eyelashes.

Whilst I thought all this, we got to the camel. 

“On you go,” Pawnee Kitty pointed to the camel.  It is so very, very big.  “Go on at the neck.”

“But I want to sit on the hump.”

“We never discussed sitting on the hump.  You can climb it if you want.”  We both know that hooves, even hooves with opposable digits, can’t help here.  I get on at the neck area with Pawnee Kitty pushing me bum.

And there I am.  Riding a camel.  I see Pawnee Kitty take a picture or two.  Then I start to wonder how I get off.  Then I note the camel is moving and it’s making too move very far.  And Pawnee Kitty isn’t following.  I think I now know why perhaps she doesn’t like camels.  It doesn’t know we’re on them. 

“Make the most of it,” Pawnee Kitty yells at me.  The camel walks faster.  I do so hope Pawnee Kitty follows.

I rode the camel for a good hour.  I had no choice and me rear grew dead.  Pawnee Kitty took a nap on the horse I think before she decided to rescue me. 

“How’s it going?”  She hollered.

“I have ridden the camel.  How do I get off?”

“Jump.”

And that is a scary thought.  I don’t mind jumping.  Remember how we won awards?  But then we jumped from the ground, up, and landed back on the ground.  We bounced.  I do mind jumping from a camel to the back of a horse.  There’s not much room and me hind hooves might slip.

“I’ll catch you,” Pawnee Kitty tells me.  She would.  Any chance to get a hold of me body and pinch me wool and ‘tis fine wool too.  Me best ever I’ve grown.

“Or you can sit there forever.”

I jump.  I feel me hooves slipping.  Then Pawnee kitty wraps her paws around me (they’re twice, nae three times the diameter of me own) and stops me from falling to me death.  I nearly faint, but I know if I do, there’ll be less wool on me body; pinched by Pawnee Kitty.

“You’re noodle legged,” she points out.  “Do you want to lay down?”

“No.”  The camel has moved on as has the horse.  I rub me bum a bit to wake it up. 

“And?”

“Twas splendid.  We must find an elephant next.”  Just think what a reaction that will be.

Will sent picture soon.

Your friend,

 Angus.  McSheep.

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Series

When I was little, I loved the Bobbsey Twin series and Trixie Belden and the Alfred Hitchcock Investigators (anyone remember them?  I still think they had the coolest hideout ever.)  I couldn’t stand Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys.  I still can’t.  Tarzan – loved every single book.

Nowadays I’m not so much into series.  I’ve even grown a bit disappointed in some authors who use the same characters in most of their books.  Lincoln Child and Douglas Preston have Pendergast and James Rollins has the SIGMA force team.  While a good read, I really long for their stand alone stories, the ones with new characters and brand new ideas.

Then again, I love the Harry Potter series.  Definitely will be seeing the movie as well even if I do know what’s going to happen.

And what about me?  I like to write about this and that and characters usually don’t stick around often for another manuscript.  But I do have a few who bug me.  There is my annual Christmas story starring my cats.  Those two are always fun to write about.  Then I have a character or two about whom I would like to write another story.  

But why do people like series?  Write about series?  I guess readers grow used to characters and, like friends, want to keep them around.  Maybe that’s why certain TV shows are popular.  Goodness knows I have several I must watch every week and if there’s a book about, I have to read it.  So, why do I get bored with certain book series?  I’ll have to think about that one.

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Writer’s Block

I had some problems with a novel I’m writing.  Actually I have a number of problems with it.  Once finished, it will need quite a bit of fixing, but I do think it will be worth it.  This particular problem came when I couldn’t think of how to continue.  I’m nearing the end (I think – this has taken a life of its own and the characters don’t want to go away just yet) and I couldn’t figure out an important piece.  Not even walking helped and I can usually think things over then or when I’m trying to go asleep. 

Finally, at work, I had a spare moment and I thought: let me hash this out.  What is going to solve this particular problem?  What mystery are the characters currently unraveling that will point the way to the big finale.  To tell the truth I didn’t have high hopes, but I started writing on my scratch piece of paper and solved the big three problems of the story (the ones the characters are solving, not the writing problems I’ve made while writing the story).  First I solved the mystery of what’s behind the paint on the walls and then made an outline of what is written behind the coat of paint.  Then I created a reason of why the horrible wolves are so numerous and beastly.  And I created the treasure which several groups are trying to find.  Is it what the main character suspects? 

Now I can take this home and see it this will prompt my brain cells to start functioning again.

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Last week I attended a convention for educational technology.  It was a great convention and I learned quite a bit, mostly about online sources that can be integrated with k12 schools.  I also attended a workshop on WordPress, half work related interest, half personal.  At school I don’t have a webpage for my library and I thought if I knew more I can create something cool for me to communicate with my teachers and vice versa.  (I might end up with a wiki for that though).  I also thought: hey, I can add more ‘zing’ and ‘zip’ to my blog.  I was excited about that.

The presenter knew his stuff.  I can’t fault him for that.  He raved about wordpress.  He said it was the best thing since… I don’t know, sliced bread.  He told us how WordPress is the best because of all the people who contribute to this open source website. 

And yet I got absolutely nothing out of the workshop.  I learned there are cool apps available.  I did not learn where they are or how to add them to my blog.  I did not even see how a blog can be created.  The workshop was all flash and dazzle and no substance.  It was a great disappointment.

Had the presenter created notes, handouts, or even listed a website we could go to, that would have helped and not made the entire hour a total waste.  I realize that in an hour you can’t show anything thoroughly, but you can create a starting point and you can point people in directions to be edified.  Instead I got the teaser and nothing else.

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