Mini-Tale: Grandma's Story

Usual rules.  I gave myself the prompt (in bold) and wrote for five straight minutes. 

“Oh no!” Mom shouted when she saw what Grandma had chosen for our bedtime story. “You are not reading that to them!”


Grandma held up the bundle of yellowed pages she had pulled off the bookshelf. “Why not, Emma? I am sure they will find it very educational.”


“What is it?” my sister Laura and I squealed.


“It's called Henry Rabbit and the Sack of Severed Heads!”


“Mother!” Mom growled. “I'm warning you...”


Grandma went on. “It's a story of friendship, honor, courage and exploding intestines! You children are familiar with the term 'unnecessary surgery' right?”


“Read it! Read it!” we squealed.


“No!” Mom snatched the book out of Grandma's hands. “She's going to read you something decent. How about Goodnight Moon?”


“That's boring!” I cried.


Grandma looked up at Mom, “Emma...”


“No buts mom! They are my children and I won't have you reading this trash to them.” Mom dropped the bundle of papers into the garbage can.


“Fine,” Grandma groaned and flipped open the picture book. “'Goodnight Moon...good night room....”


Mom stood in the doorway watching Grandma read to us. After a few minutes her phone rang down the hall. As soon as Mom turned the corner, Grandma pulled the bundle of papers out of the trashcan and began reading it. “This is the story of Henry Rabbit and the Sack of Severed Heads, written and illustrated by Emma Frost.” She looked up at us. “You know, your mother was about your age when she wrote this.”


Shotgun Reviews: The Replacement

The Replacement is the debut novel by Brenna Yovanoff

Mackie is a replacement.  When he was a baby the creatures under the town of Gentry left him in the crib of a human child.  Now, sixteen years later, Mackie is still trying to pass for a normal youth.  But when Gentry’s children begin to disappear again he becomes determined to learn more of the mysterious world he came from. 

  • This book has a very cool, eerie plot that perfectly reflects teenage angst and misery without becoming unpleasantly melodramatic.
  • The key to the story is that Mackie is a character you care for.  There are a few moments where he does or says unbelievably stupid things (especially around girls), but this is mostly typical teenage behavior.  The reader never stops wanting him to find a place where he feels at home. 
  • Unfortunately, the rules of the world Mackie comes from can get a little confusing.  Also, for such a fresh story the creatures all act and feel too much like zombies and vampires (although these terms are never used).  I was hoping for some more original monsters.
  • This is one of a number of YA books I have read recently where for no apparent reason the hottest girl in school secretly likes an awkward little weirdo.  While this isn’t impossible it seemed out of character for the girl.
  • Many of the “monsters” aren’t completely evil.  I was not expecting their motives or morals to be so complex.  
  • Most books like this are either about orphans or children separated from their parents.  Mackie’s parents actually play a large role throughout he story.  There is more of an emotional rift than a physical one.  This is just one way that The Replacement is a very accurate allegory of the dark years called high school.


Mini-Tale: The Third Wish

Usual rules.  I gave myself the prompt (in bold) and wrote for five straight minutes.



She could not believe what she found in the glove box of her boyfriend's car.


“Oh Lord! What is that thing?” Claire pressed herself as far back into passenger's seat as she could go.


“What? What's wrong?” Christopher shouted almost swerving off the highway.


“I opened up your glove compartment to find your GPS and there's some ugly shriveled up thing in there. Is that a monkey's paw?


“Oh, that,” Christopher mumbled. “It's nothing.”


“It sure smells like something!”


“Okay, okay, it's something,” he groaned. “I guess I should tell you about it.  I bought it off of this old guy outside the mall a few months ago. He said it would grant me three wishes.”


“You're joking.” Claire glared at her boyfriend.


“I didn't really believe it at first, but I was holding it after I left and figured I'd give it a shot. I wished for more money. I thought if it really was magic I would get a pile of gold or cash or at least a winning lottery ticket. Nothing like that happened.”


“Were you surprised?”


“Well, the next day I did get that huge promotion. With an eighty percent salary increase.”


“Yeah, but that was just a coincidence.”


“After that, I wished I wasn't so lonely. Two days later Oscar, my cat showed up, eating out of my trashcan. He was just a kitten so I took him in.”


“What did you wish for after that?”




Claire stared at him. “Chris, what are you....”


“I'd had a crush on you for months. You're the reason I kept going back to that stupid coffee shop.”


“I know. You already told me.”


“So I held the monkey's paw and said, 'I wish that cute girl at the coffee shop would fall in love with me,' and the next day were talking."


“Chris! That's a self fulfilled prophecy. It had nothing to do with this shriveled up old paw.” She stared at the glove compartment. “You don't really think that the only reason why I love you is because that thing's magic do you?”


Chris shrugged. “Maybe. I don't know.”


Claire shook her head. “No.  I don't believe it.  I love you willingly.  Nothing's forcing me to.  Really!"  Neither of them said anything for the rest fo the car ride.  By the time they reached their destination Claire couldn't take her eyes off the monkey paw. 


I write for another blog

Everyone should check out the post I did for the blog Keep the Wisdom.  I write about what it was like creating Wilderness and what I am doing now trying to get it published. 


Shotgun Reviews: "Catching Fire"

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (2009) The sequel to The Hunger Games


Seventeen-year-old Katniss Everdeen has survived the 74th Hunger Games but in doing so has insulted the all powerful Capital. Now, in order to protect her family and loved ones she will have to return to the arena for a set of games specifically designed to destroy her.



-In short, this second volume in The Hunger Games series is bigger. The violence is more brutal, the plot more complex, and the caste of characters grows with some fantastic additions. We also learn more about the characters, including the narrator, and they become more vivid and multi-dimensional.


-There is also much more of a love story. While there are moments when it does become melodramatic, it only occasionally bogs down the narrative a significant amount. Also, what the characters go through in terms of the love triangle is very similar to what many teenagers go through, only on a much more dramatic scale.


-The first half of the book is slow but the plot picks up considerably once Katniss reenters the Hunger Games. Once again, this is the part of the story where Collins' quick, violent pace shines.


-This book reminded me of the Harry Potter sequels in that the character is returning to a familiar locations (in this case an arena of death rather than a school) and goes to the same places and through the same routine as the first book. This give the sequel a sense of familiarity to fans of the original.


-There is even more satire concerning media obsession and the ridiculousness of excessiveness. While the author does not hammer the point too much it is clear enough for both young adults and grown ups to appreciate what she is trying to say.